A Strength She Never Knew She Had

A Strength She Never Knew She Had

During her husband's lengthy recovery, one Bible verse gave her strength and hope.

Lindy Wilson and her husband, Jim

The phone rang that Tuesday evening, September 12, 2006, and my heart quickened. Maybe Jim was calling to wish me a happy forty-fifth birthday. That would be just like him. Twenty-six years of marriage and we were still as much in love as we’d been back in high school. Maybe even more.

Our youngest had just left for college, and we were looking forward to this time together. Camping trips. Weekends at a B and B. Romantic motorcycle rides, me sitting behind Jim, my arms around his waist, leaning against him, feeling his strength.

I picked up the phone.

“Is this Lindy Wilson?” a woman asked. “I’m a nurse at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. I’m calling about your husband. He’s been in a serious accident.”

My mind couldn’t process what she was saying. It had been a beautiful late summer day. Jim had ridden his Yamaha Royal Star over the Sierras to a meeting of fellow electric utility superintendents four hours away.

He’d hated not being home for my birthday. I glanced at the roses he’d left for me to find. “No, that can’t be...”

“His condition is extremely critical,” the nurse said. “You need to come right away. But do not drive yourself.”

I couldn’t think. I called our friends Peter and Debbie, heard myself screaming into the phone, my words jumbled. “We’ll be right over,” Debbie said.

I collapsed on the couch. God, please don’t take Jim. I can’t live without him. I thought of a woman who’d shared her testimony at church recently. Her husband, a police officer, had died in the line of duty. I’d marveled at her strength, her unshakable faith.

“I’m not that kind of woman,” I remembered telling Jim after church. “I don’t think I could hold it together if something happened to you.” Secretly I’d hoped I was wrong. But now I knew.

There was a knock at the door. Peter and Debbie. “We’ll drive you to the hospital,” Debbie said. She found a suitcase and packed it for me. What else did I need? I grabbed my Bible.

The whole four-hour drive to Santa Rosa I sat in the backseat, clutching the Bible while I called the kids, the rest of our family, people from church.

We got to the hospital around midnight. The nurse who’d called met us in the waiting room.

“Your husband is still in surgery,” she told me. “A van crossed into his lane and hit him head-on. He has massive internal injuries, collapsed lungs, a crushed pelvis, a lot of broken bones. We’re doing everything we can, but...I think you should talk with the chaplain.”

The chaplain was able to tell me a little more. Jim had been hit so hard that he flipped over the top of the van, only to have the panic-stricken driver back over him. The chaplain offered consoling prayers, but I knew why he was meeting with me. Jim wasn’t expected to live.

Would I never hear his voice again? Never again feel the warmth of his touch?

At 1:00 A.M. the surgeon came out of the operating room to update me. “At this point, Jim has about a one-percent chance of survival,” he said. “Most of his organs are failing. We’ve brought him back from cardiac arrest twice. I hope your kids can get here in time.” He rushed back to the O.R.

One percent. I tried to pray, but my mind kept going back to that terrifying statistic. I tried to think of the verse I’d heard just that past Sunday, when Jim and I visited my mother’s church. It wouldn’t come to me. Even my Bible felt heavy, my fingers aching from holding onto it so tightly.

Friends trickled into the waiting room. My sister. Our pastor. I told everyone what the surgeon said about Jim’s chances. “One percent,” I repeated, my voice breaking.

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