So many young girls have an idea of how they want their lives to turn out when they get to be adults. There are those very practical goals and dreams of graduating college, finding a good job, meeting a dream man, getting married, and then living the modern version of happily ever after and whatever that entails. At the age of 24, I was living my own version of a dream that I had for myself as a young girl. I was married to a wonderful man named Joey. We lived in a small town in West Virginia where he worked as a youth pastor and I was his right hand helper. We were also pregnant with our very first child and we thought that life could not get any better for the two of us.
Yet on Friday, September 22, 2006, my ideal life changed very quickly.My husband was on his way home from a week long trip away to seminary and it was during a rain storm when he wrecked the minivan he was driving. The van spun out of control and into the opposite lane of traffic just as another car was coming from the other direction. The other car t-boned the minivan and Joey was unconscious when emergency crews got to the scene of the accident. He was taken to a hospital in Charleston, WV.
Joey remained in the ICU for about a week with severe brain trauma. He was unconscious the whole time due to a drug induced coma. His neurologist had explained to us that as the minivan was spinning and then was impacted by the other car, it was as if Joey’s brain had been put inside of a bottle and shaken up in every direction possible. That caused his brain to swell far beyond what his skull was capable of containing. Every day afterward was a fight to get the swelling down to a decent level, but the neurologist often warned us that he knew that a lot of damage had been done and if Joey eventually was able to wake up on his own, he probably wouldn't be the man who we once knew.
After a week of some highs but mainly lows in the progress of his brain recovering, we were told that Joey was completely brain dead and there was nothing that could be done to help him. Knowing that my husband would not want to spend his life hooked up to machines, I along with the rest of our family made the decision to take him off life support and my life as I knew it at that time, changed forever. I suddenly became a 24-year-old widow who was also pregnant. It was not at all what I had ever envisioned my life to be.
Obviously this was a huge test on my faith in God. I cannot lie and say that at first I knew that this was all apart of His plan because I definitely knew that my husband dying was not in my plans. I was devastated beyond belief, but I knew that I couldn’t just give up and not get out of bed everyday because I could not just think about myself anymore. I had a growing baby inside of me. I had to start thinking about our future and make new plans for both my child and myself.
Out of all the darkness of Joey’s death came so many rays of light in the years that followed. I had such an amazing support system of close friends and family members and they took such wonderful care of me after he died. I will also never be able to thank the American Baptist Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board enough for all of their support throughout the years. My beautiful and healthy baby girl was born in February of 2007 and she is growing into such a wonderful young lady. I was remarried in 2009 to my high school boyfriend which ended up being a beautiful love story in and of itself. My new husband eventually adopted my daughter in 2010 and we officially became a family even though we had always felt like one. I graduated from Marshall University in 2012 with my undergraduate degree in Secondary English Education, which had been a longtime goal of mine. Then at the end of 2012 we welcomed another healthy baby girl into our family.
Looking back at my story, I can’t help but see God’s love throughout all of it. Even though I thought my world was ending when Joey was taken away from me, in another way, a whole new life was just beginning and that was all because God had a plan for me. I know that it is difficult when you are in the depths of a tragedy to really see how He is going to show you why what has happened is for a purpose. If you just have faith and take each day one at a time, you will see that maybe God’s life plan for you just might be better than anything you had planned on your own.