And For That, We Are Thankful

When I finished “The Anatomy of a Broken Bone” two and a half years ago, I was hoping there would never be a Part II. “Here’s hoping our first one will also be our last,” I wrote.

So much for wishes, well-laid plans and good intentions.

Number Three Son is down again. This time with a broken distal left fibula (ankle, essentially) obtained while sledding down a snowy hillside on a trashcan lid in the wee hours of Sunday morning in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the annual “Juiced-For-Jesus,” mega-monster youth rally, Winterfest.

The chance to frolic in a few inches of fresh, frozen precipitation was just too much of a temptation for a gang of Southern boys whose experience with the stuff is limited mainly to pictures on the internet and coverage of the Winter Olympics every four years.

And really, who could blame them, right? Well, I’m sure some people probably did and will, but I won’t even honor that with a response. Uh, okay, not much of one.

A note to the self-righteous scolds who always need a nice, pat answer and a scapegoat: Read Ecclesiastes–random crap happens.

We are of course thankful that the 3:00 AM phone call wasn’t any worse. Believe me, I’ve had the other kind, and when the phone rings in the middle of the night like that, I flashback to 1980 faster than a trippy Deadhead on a batch of bad acid. Number Three could have just as easily drifted off course and spun around a few degrees more and bashed his skull against the side of a tree, but he was dealt a livable hand. Time and chance favored him–for now.

We’re thankful for Tim and Jacquie, youth volunteers who lost a night of sleep and did the difficult work of standing in for Eyegal and me, finding a hospital close by and driving him and Number Two through heavy snow, along dark and winding mountain roads. Tim, my friend, you may have never driven in snow in your life, but you did a fine job for your first time out.

We’re thankful that Number Two was there with him, calm and tall in the saddle as usual, standing in for us as well. He took care of business, helped Number Three find some humor in his predicament, and even got a chance to chat up a physician’s assistant in the ER, which happens to be one of the careers in which he’s interested. He was the perfect blend of compassion and big brotherly “just get over it” grief, and we’re proud of him.

We’re thankful for Anna, daughter of Number Three’s orthopedist and one of his good friends at school, who just happened to be sitting near him on the bus on the way home and called her father and prevailed upon him to see Number Three first thing this morning in an overbook slot. We’re thankful that what daddy’s little girl wants, daddy’s little girl gets.

And we’re thankful that Number Three is handling all this with some grace and even a little humor. Still, he’s having some flashbacks of his own. He’s suffering not only from the physical pain, but he now faces the disappointment of a promising spring soccer season at Grissom High ending way-too-early and the challenges of keeping up his schoolwork while navigating on crutches through the dingy, cattle-chute halls of an overcrowded and outdated high school. He looks ahead and sees months of therapy and rehab, and then the long, hard road back to fitness.

But he’s done it before, and he can do it again. And if I have anything to say about it, he’ll have the best resources available to help him.

So we as a family enter this Lenten season with a bit of a limp in all manner of ways. But we are not crawling, and we are not paralyzed in grief.

And for that, we are thankful.

  1. G

    From Facebook:

    Sorry for #3’s distress and inconvenience. No recriminations for injuries while having fun. We’d never have fun if we were always worried about that stuff. God is in the fun and the injury. He will work this out for good. Sooo glad, as are you, that it wasn’t worse

  2. Hal

    I’m sure it’s difficult for #3 to see his broken appendage and a missed soccer season as a blessing. But, a broken ankle beats a broken neck every time. I hope he heals quickly and is able to play soccer later in the season.

  3. S

    From Facebook:

    Aww, bummer for #3’s soccer season and all the rest. But praise God it wasn’t worse. A bunch of kids from our congregation went to Winterfest as well. I haven’t heard of any similar incidents from them though. Blessings to you all.

  4. JRB

    I’ll bet it was fun right up until the end. Now it’s a good story. Good stories are always worth some pain.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    And it’s a story with a plot that remains unfinished. Moreover, he will have much influence on where the storyline goes from here.

    The break is somewhat worse than we thought. He is in a lot of pain and heavily medicated. This is going to be a long haul.

  6. kristiS

    I’m so sorry. But, JRB’s right and he does have a good story. I’ll be praying that he heals quickly and without too much pain.

  7. Jason Bybee

    Sorry to hear about this, Mike. Tell #3 his old Nashville workcamp roomie will be dialing up a few requests for quick recovery on his behalf.

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    I’ll pass that along, Jason. Thank you very much. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m betting that you’re the first of our ministers to make that offer.

  9. Bryan Jackson


    So sorry to hear about #3. We were in Gatlinburg as well, but kept our wintry activities to the snowball fight variety.

  10. Mike the Eyeguy

    Thanks Bryan, we appreciate that. There were a lot of people that we knew there, including the boys’ first cousin from Virginia. They never saw him of course with all the tens of thousands there, and when he returned home to Virginia and learned that Number Three had broken his leg, he said wryly, “And I didn’t even think there was enough snow there to do anything.”

    But then again, the cousin has never lived in Alabama. Perspective is everything.

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