MARY - MOTHER & GRANDMA
"It was approximately 5 weeks after the accident that Natalie demanded to see Shawn. Our hearts were breaking all over again."
Thursday had been a wonderful day. I have five daughters and we had all met for lunch at Marcie's home to give a send-off to Angie who was moving to North Carolina. The older cousins played outside and Natalie helped clean the kitchen with Marcie. I had Sage. She was hungry so I was able to feed her a bottle and changed her diaper. She was so full of smiles and her blue eyes just sparkled with life and contentment. Natalie loved to dress her in Old Navy jeans and cute shirts with a ribbon bow on her head. She was my 11th grandchild and I was such a proud grandma. Would she inherit her dad's gift of music, would she be blond like her dad or dark like Natalie?
The phone rang at about 12:30 AM, waking my husband and me. My husband answered. Shawn's mother, Jennifer Marti, told him that there had been a terrible accident on the freeway and that our daughter, Natalie, was in intensive care at St. Alphonsus hospital and she didn't know where her son, Shawn, and our 5-month-old granddaughter Sage were. I cried all the way to the hospital in sheer terror.
We met Craig and Jennifer Marti in the waiting room of the hospital. No one could tell us anything about Shawn and Sage. We waited and waited until a State trooper finally came in the room and confirmed our worst fears-Shawn and Sage had been killed instantly by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the freeway. The physical pain of the news nearly ripped my heart out and I felt physically ill. I looked at Craig and Jennifer-the loss was just unthinkable.
My husband Dee and I went up to the 6th floor of the hospital to see Natalie. She was in a coma on life support. She couldn't breathe on her own. The doctors couldn't tell us much. With dozens of possible medical threats, stroke, blood clots, brain swelling, and bleeding, there was little hope that she would live. With the love of her life Shawn and her precious baby Sage gone, we literally didn't know what to pray for.
We left the hospital and drove to the homes of our four married children to tell them. Angie and her two small children were staying with us while her husband, Jared was driving a truck to North Carolina to their new home. She had heard the phone ring and was anxiously waiting to know what had happened so we drove home to tell her first. Marcie's husband Drew was in China on business. They have four young children and were expecting twins and I didn't want her to go into unexpected labor. We drove to their home next. We then drove to Amanda and John's and finally to Nampa to tell Tyler and Rhonda. The physical pain and mental anguish caused by losing our loved ones cannot be described.
We had one daughter to tell and we dreaded it the most. Just six months before she had lost the love of her life, Cody Hayes, in a car accident. We had been at the same hospital that Natalie was at now, and the doctors couldn't save him. Shawn had really put his arms around Gina to comfort her and wrote her encouraging emails as she went off to college three weeks later.
Sage's middle name was Sea to represent a "C" for Cody. Gina loved Sage with all her heart and her birth was a healing gift to our family as well as Cody's family. Sage died wrapped in the pink blanket that Cody's parents had given her when she was born. Gina was in Rexburg attending BYU-Idaho. We finally made the call to her. Again there were no words to describe the pain their deaths had on Gina. However, we all drew from our faith and rallied. We decided to pray for whatever was best for Natalie.
Natalie was still in the coma when we had the funeral for Shawn and Sage a week later. We had to make so many decisions without her input. It was shortly after the funeral that we felt like Natalie would survive, and we then prayed for a full recovery. The doctors were not encouraging. She had sustained a very traumatic brain injury as well as a broken hand, broken arm that required surgery to repair, a broken neck, and had bruised her kidneys and liver with lacerations to her leg. She started coming out of her coma two weeks after the accident. The respirator was pulled and she could breathe on her own.
My husband and I stayed by Natalie's side constantly. He slept on a cot next to her for 22 nights so that I could go home and sleep. Her brother and sisters and their spouses came and stayed for hours with her every day. We rejoiced when she opened her eyes and started responding to commands to lift one finger and move her legs. Her first word was "ouch" when the nurse was changing an IV.
Although we rejoiced at her recovery, we agonized each day as we realized that she would eventually ask for Shawn and Sage. After regaining consciousness, she suffered from post-traumatic amnesia-meaning she couldn't remember events of the day like what she had for breakfast or who had come to see her or what she had done in therapy. The doctors didn't want to have to tell her over and over about Shawn and Sage so they kept what happened a secret or would change the subject quickly when Natalie would start asking about them.
It was approximately 5 weeks after the accident that Natalie demanded to see Shawn. Our hearts were breaking all over again. The doctors at this point thought she was ready to know. It was a very sad day again as they explained to her what had happened. The entire hospital staff on the 4th floor mourned with us.
Natalie's recovery has been a miracle. She walked out of the hospital eight weeks after the accident. Her faith hasn't wavered and she has been strong and has comforted many others. She has responded with compassion and kindness. She tries very hard to be happy every day and it is an inspiration to all around her. She has so much love and appreciation for her family and friends.
I am so grateful for the judicial system. I know that when laws are broken punishment must be given. I am so grateful to the law enforcement officers for doing their jobs and attorneys that have worked hard to see that justice is served. It saddens me greatly that Edgar's choice to drink and then drive that night devastated not only my family but his. I feel so sorry for his wife and two children, but a message needs to be sent that it is not right to drink and drive. The lives of innocent people are lost and their lives will never be the same.