Wednesday, August 24

39 days ago, I remember walking into Franklin Medical Center to my mother in law shaking, in tears, saying she didn’t know what was going on. I remember the feeling of panic. I remember hearing the news of what happened. I remember thinking that I was going to lose my wife. That seeing her leave at 6:40 that morning would be the last time I saw her alive. That I’d never get to feel her put her hand in my hand. I would never feel her run her fingers through my hair. I’d never hear her tell me that she loved me. I remember terrifying thoughts. I remember fear gripping me. I remember falling into chairs at Franklin Medical Center. I remember a car ride to Jackson, Mississippi that felt like an eternity. I remember frantically pacing a waiting room in the ER praying someone would tell me something. I remember hearing the words, “there’s a chance she won’t live through the night.” I remember thinking, “No, that’s not my Kelly back there. This is a huge misunderstanding. It has to be a huge misunderstanding.” I remember my mom and dad holding me like I’ve never felt before. I remember fear. I remember following Kelly to the NSICU. I remember seeing my wife with a breathing tube. I remember tears of fear and hate filling my eyes as I looked at her. I remember thinking I would wake up from this terrible dream. I remember the doctors saying that she’s responding with her right side, but her left side was showing no signs of response. I remember thinking if she would be paralyzed for the rest of our life. I remember hearing the words, “critical but stable” and thinking how much of an oxymoron that statement is. I remember hearing that we were far from out of the woods. I remember sitting by her side, wondering if she could hear anything I was saying.

These were the most terrifying times of my life. Times that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. Thoughts no husband of 13 months should have.

I remember all of these terrible things.

But I remember this. God is faithful.

I remember being told that Kelly had opened her eyes for a few minutes. I remember standing outside of her room late at night and her nurse grabbing me, pulling me into the room, and showing me that her eyes were open. I remember being woken up early on a  Sunday morning to the words, “we’ve extubated her if y’all want to come and see her.” I don’t think I’ve ever moved that fast…at least not that early.  I remember feeling relieved. I remember going back for an 8:30pm visit to hear, “we’re about to move Kelly to the floor.” We were headed to a regular room. I remember hearing some of that Kelly sass the first night in a regular room. I remember hearing on a Friday that we were moving to rehab. I remember running across the room on a Saturday morning to see Kelly move her left leg. I remember watching her on the parallel bars taking steps on the left side that was unresponsive to commands just days before. I remember her walking down the hallway with the smile I was afraid I’d never see again. I remember seeing her light up as we pushed her down the hall to her speech therapy. I remember seeing her left side improve every single day. I remember her speech getting stronger. I remember her lifting her left arm above her head for the first time and saying, “huzzah!” I remember the joy that I saw in her eyes.

That joy is there and I don’t think I’ll ever see it leave. This isn’t a joy that says look at what I can do. Is Kelly proud of herself? Absolutely! And rightfully so! But this joy isn’t from pride. I know this is the Joy of the Lord. Rend Collective sings a song called “Joy of the Lord.” These are the words to the chorus.

The joy of the Lord is my strength

The joy of the Lord is my strength

In the darkness I’ll dance

In the shadows I’ll sing

The joy of the Lord is my strength

This is an amazing song to sing. This is a great song to jam with your great friends in the Good Times Band. This is an awesome song to worship to. This song changes tho when you see someone live those words. Your life changes when you see someone live those words. Your marriage will change when you see your wife live those words. To truly be planted and know that this is possible because of the Lord. It’s overwhelming! Especially when you’re a softie like I am.

I know this has been all over the place. There’s no rhyme or reason to these words. 39 days after this terrible incident, Kelly finds her joy in the Lord. Kelly can sing in the middle of a tragedy. My wife is pretty awesome and I’m the luckiest man in the world.

Friday, August 12

Have you ever had a terrible dream? One that you just could not wait to wake up from so you could tell yourself that it was just a dream? I’ve been living that. On a loop. Every morning I wake up hoping I can roll over and tell my wife, “You would not believe the dream I had.” But the reality is this, I’m wide awake. This is real life. I’m not asleep. 27 days ago, my world stopped. 27 days ago, my wife left our house for a store meeting. 27 days ago, my wife was taken from a gas station. 27 days ago, my wife was shot in the head and left to die. 27 days ago, I was told that my wife might not make it through the night. At that point, we were 3 days passed 13 months of marriage. These are words I never thought I would ever hear.

Why Kelly? Why my loving, caring wife? You know, I think God is big enough for our questions. I think He is big enough for our anger. I think He is big enough for our fears. 27 days ago, I thought my life with Kelly was coming to an end. I was mad. I was hurt. I had questions that did not have answers. 27 days later, I’m still somewhat mad. I’m still hurt. I still have question that don’t have answers. But that is ok. I think God is big enough for our questions. I think He is big enough for our anger. I think He is big enough for our fears. I’ll never know why this happened. I’ll never know why out of the thousands of people in Winnsboro, that Kelly was the one that this man picked.

That’s ok.

I have seen, first hand, how God can move in the middle of what seems like a hopeless situation. In the days following this horrific incident, doctors were asking why Kelly was alive. Now, they’re wondering why her progress is happening as fast as it is. One of our closest friends, Wes Pierce, posted a status on his Facebook 8 days after the incident. It was simple. It read, “My God is big and you can’t tell me other wise.” I think that sums up exactly what is going on in Kelly’s life. God ultimately has a plan for this situation. I don’t understand it right now and I’m not sure I ever will, but that’s ok. This is what I know. 27 days later, my wife is walking. 27 days later, my wife is moving the left side that the doctors said may never move again. 27 days later, her beautiful smile and contagious laugh are back. 27 days later, my wife is telling me she loves me. 27 days later, my wife is alive. Another close friend of ours, Karl Wiggers, came and visited about a week ago. He told us that his prayer on the way over from Baton Rouge was, “God, don’t let this be a slow recovery. Let this be fast.” As far as I can see, his prayer is being answered. We were told by a nurse practitioner that the staff at MRC sees miracles, but they don’t see them this quick. God ultimately has a plan for this situation. I don’t understand it right now and I’m not sure I ever will, but that’s ok. 27 days later, my wife is alive and on her way to a full recovery.

Tuesday, August 2

Seventeen days ago, my world stopped. I thought I had lost the love of my life. I thought I had lost my best friend. The Lord had different plans. We spent eleven days in the NSICU. There, we made friends that we’ll continue to visit for years. The staff on the fourth floor of UMMC (University of Mississippi Medical Center) is absolutely amazing. We moved to a regular room on 4 south in UMMC. We were there for four days and three nights. We were moved to MRC (Methodist Rehabilitation Center) on Friday, July 29 around 3. Moving to the rehabilitation center thirteen days after this terrible incident blew me away.

The next day, Kelly began rehab. She was on an abbreviated schedule and saw her physical therapist. Alex, her PT, brought her to the support poles. My heart was so anxious to see what would happen. Kelly stood up out of her wheelchair and put her right foot in front of her. I honestly believe my heart skipped a beat. I was worried about what would happen next. Her left side had been immobile for 2 weeks and I was so scared she would be upset. Her left foot rose and passed her right foot. It was not perfect. It shook the whole time. It was beautiful. There are moments in your life that you’ll never forget. This was one of mine. I saw a smile cross her face. I smiled as tears began to fill my eyes. My Kelly was back. She walked down the support poles, sat down in her chair, backed up, and did it all again. Her smile grew bigger and bigger. Monday, August 1, Kelly went back to her PT. He wanted to try something different. He took Kelly to the middle of the hall and stood her up. She walked, with assistance, down the hall. That same “Kelly” smile came back. I know She’s so proud of herself. I know I’m proud of her. Seeing my wife walk two weeks after this incident was amazing.

Kelly also sees an occupational therapist. Her name is Emily. She helped Kelly get ready Saturday morning. This was the first time I saw her move her left leg. This was amazing. Emily took Kelly down to the gym and worked with her. Kelly had a smile on her face. Nothing in this world is better than seeing my wife smile. Monday, Kelly had an assessment test. Emily told us the results and said that Kelly had scored a thirty-six out of thirty-six and she never had someone get every question correct. I thought, “well, I did marry a genius.” I mean, she finished her undergrad in three and a half years after changing her major her sophomore year.

Kelly also sees a speech language pathologist. Her name is Rainey. Kelly loves going to the SLP.  If you didn’t know, Kelly just finished her undergrad in speech language. It’s crazy for me to think that God began this miracle the day she changed her major. Kelly knows exactly what is going on every time she goes into the office with Rainey. She smiles the whole way down the hall because she knows where she is going. Kelly is talking. Her voice is very quiet because of the breathing tube she had for eight days. Her vocal chords continue to strengthen everyday. She’s said my name, told me she loves me, and told me that I’m hovering and I need to go lay down on the couch. That’s my Kelly. She has no slur. She has no stutter. Her words come out perfectly fine, just a little quiet. Last night, her mother and I heard the first word in what we call her strong voice. She was telling her mom about her favorite wrestler, Randy Orton. She likes him because, “he’s good looking.” That’s my Kelly. (By the way, don’t judge us because we watch “good ole wraslin'” from time to time!)

Kelly has made incredible improvements in seventeen days. We were told by a staff member at MRC that they see miracles all the time but Kelly is different. They have never seen this many miracles happen this fast. That’s my Kelly. I’m so very proud of my wife and the fight she has in her.

I’ll never understand why we had to experience this, but that’s ok. We’ve heard stories of people placing their faith in Christ because of this, others faith have been strengthened, others have seen God move like never before. I know that to Kelly, if this happened so that the Gospel could reach people and change their lives, she’s ok with it. That’s my Kelly.