Throughout this ordeal that is overwhelming in its entirety we (John, Angi and Christian) have felt this surge of emotion to cry and at the same time a peace that brings comfort at that very same moment.
The first day when we learned of the tragedy, Angi did not want to tell Christian because his plate was full. I called anyway and we are so glad I did. I wanted him to not ever learn of any part of this from someone else and ask why didn't you call me. Christian is a gift from God to Angi and I and has been there as a strength during times of need.
We feel love and comfort that is strengthening in these moments. Thoughts of endless painful events that may come to an end for Nicole are comforting with the belief that when we die we will have rest from our needs and reasons for weeping and have the environment surrounding us of our God, the Savior and our loved ones.
We have learned to look at Nicole, even in moments of high dysfunctional emotion, hers and ours, and see the sweet girl we know and love and try to speak to that person.
When we went to see her in the hospital she was swollen, red and wrapped in a protective covering, a tube down her throat, surrounded by tubes, lines and monitoring machines. We focused on seeing the precious girl and not the drama. She displays courage to fight, to survive and at moments when she comes out of her sedated state, she wants to write on a tablet or sign. Her first written words from her wrapped third degree burnt hand while trying to clear her throat of fluid that was so much she gurgled to Angi and I were "I'm sorry" and then "I love you." My greeting to her "Nikki Nikki timbo.....
A patient who worked in a burn unit for 3 years back in the 70's said at that time few survived a 40% full body third degree burn. Nicole has 60% of her body burned and 80% is third degree and worse. Today doctors give her a 50/50 chance.
We feel a deep comfort that whether she lives or dies it is totally in God's hands and according to his plan.
Nicole's life has been tutoring us in patience and allowing the goodness of so many people to exercise faith to pray and give strength and peace to Angi, Christian and myself. Many times our life's struggles and struggles others have, allow us to grow in our faith and belief in a loving merciful God. She is still here with us.
For those of you unaware Nicole has a mental illness. She has struggled since she was three years old and she has been diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder, severe depression as well as PDD-pervasive developmental disorder which is in the autism family and other learning disabilities and others. She has heard voices in her head that have created so much torment and pain that she self inflicted pain that would be horrifying to most, but that pain would stop those voices. Unfortunately that has left her very lonely many times in her life.
We have struggled many years to appreciate what that really is and have had a difficult time comprehending it. Yet in spite of that internal environment, she gives us and so many others precious memories. She has forced us to grow and learn skills we would not have chosen without being faced with the challenges.
Time is a great healer and although we cannot control tomorrow or the past, today is that time and at the end of this day if we can say we did the best we could do with the knowledge we have, I believe it is enough for our merciful unconditional loving God.
For those of us who feel stuck unable to move forward because of the enormity of this life changing event we offer....Look at the whole picture, all of it, and pick a piece of it and do that piece. You will find that as you chunk it down into pieces and parts you can move forward with what is happening now and in your fullness of life's challenges. You will see that in its smaller pieces that by themselves, doing what is needed, is not a problem for you. The pain of this amount can be worked through.
Many times, so many times Angi and I have cried to the Lord "it is more than we can handle and we are at the bottom of our rope" holding onto the knot with our fingertips and felt so desperate, overwhelmed, exhausted, spent and felt like we had nothing left to give. The rope got longer, the day by day, hour by hour, tasks were forcibly walked through and we made it. This has occurred 100's of times in our life and with Nicole and while raising our kids, over our careers the ups and downs, even because of church members, in and outside our church, their choices and because of many other things. Now because of those numerous times of the rope getting longer we have gained the strength of knowing we will make it through each challenge and that we need to embrace the struggle or conflict and define it so it doesn't remove us from our fixed course of returning to God with honor having learned that the only honorable way to exit this life is to live it even if that means minute by minute hour by hour day by day week by week, etc.
We pray for those praying for us that they too will be comforted.
Thank you for your faith and prayers on our behalf. We are strengthened and comforted because of your prayers. Whatever happens will be according to God's perfect plan. We love each of you. We are amazed how many lives she has reached.
God comfort you and strengthen you who have also experienced the pain of this event.