On August 7th I stood in the emergency room entrance with Nels waiting to go back and see Nash. At this point, I hadn’t called my family yet to let them know what had happened. Nels kept urging me to call them and I kept saying “Not Yet”. The third time he gave me the very stern voice and look that only and he and my Dad have ever been able to get away with and said, “Karen, you have to call them!” I shook my head “yes” as I walked over to the corner to call my mom. At that moment, it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell my mom and sister, but I knew that I was so close to being broken and I knew that once the words escaped my lips, they were real and I would never be the same...and I knew that the scared, emptiness that was inside my soul was about to take over my mom and sister. I didn’t want that, I didn’t want one more person to feel how I was feeling at that moment. I have never felt fear and sadness deep in my soul like I felt that day and in the upcoming days. I felt close to that when my Dad was sick and passed away, those were some awful days, but this was different...this was my baby and we didn’t know what his future held. I pray that those of you reading this have never and will never feel something to that depth, but unfortunately, many of you will.
Our close friends and family know that Nels and I are very different when it comes to sharing our personal lives. Nels likes to live very publicly. He likes people to know details of our personal lives, in an effort to help others, that I would never share. I am quite different. I like to live very privately, I like to keep things to myself... I hate “looking in the rearview mirror” of difficult times. It’s just not natural or comfortable for me to put myself out there for the world to see. Our two worlds have never collided more than they did once the incident happened. Nels was adamant that we needed to make a post...I was adamant that he would have to do it. Again, I knew with each word shared, my brokenness was about to be a little more real. I read his first post the night of the incident. “Nash was shot with a 22”...” damage to his diaphragm, liver, right lung, a bullet lodged in his spinal column”...” decreased sensation in his lower extremities”...it continued on and on asking for prayers. I laid in bed with the reality slamming me. Dear God, how are we here? Why are we here? But we were and it was now “out there”. It was real...and another piece of me fell.
Our story started to play out like a novel on social media. Each day our updates grew and got a little longer and more detailed. At first, I did not want any pictures of Nash shared. I have seen a lot of people share pictures of their kids in a hospital bed and it always just struck me wrong. Like there was a cry for attention. Nels felt differently, he felt like people needed to see Nash in order to help pray for Nash and meet us where we were. (I hope I am not putting words into his mouth but this is what I believe to be true). So, with Nash’s permission, we posted a picture. Slowly but surely, our story grew...our pictures and videos grew...our openness grew. I still ask Nash for permission before I post pictures and videos of him out of respect but he has never once said “no”.
Part of putting yourself so freely out there is the potential for backlash. What I have discovered is that it’s not necessarily the backlash from others that I fear but more from my psyche. We knew from the beginning that the only path we would take would be one of positivity and our posts reflected that but there were days that, if I am being completely honest, I have felt like a total imposter... like a hypocrite! There have been days when you have read posts from me that talked about what a great day of progress it was and how faithful God has been when in reality, deep down, I was angry and sad and broken beyond comprehension. There was a day when I dropped Mac off at volleyball that I turned the corner at the school to see the 7th-grade boys practicing football. It cut me to the core so deeply that I had to pull over the car and cry out to God...WHY??? WHY CAN'T NASH BE THERE??? WHY IS THIS HIS PATH??? But that was the part of me that I didn’t want to share, that was the broken me that needed to stay locked inside. It took me a while to realize that in these moments, that didn’t make me “fake”...that made me human! It’s ok to be broken and sad and falling apart but remain positive! Society has taught us that, as Christians, it’s hypocritical to act in a way that’s different than how you feel but that is SO wrong! Would it have been better for me to be angry and bitter to the world in those moments when I was falling apart? Absolutely not! That’s how people start to spiral out of control. So I started to embrace it. One day I even wrote about it...I told all of Facebook land about my horrible attitude on the day of Nash’s first ASIA test. Would you believe that I got more messages that day than any other day since the incident? People didn’t condemn me, they supported me! People recognized that I was just a mom fighting a battle that we never wanted and some days just plain suck...and that’s ok! What makes it not ok is drowning at that moment, not getting back on the horse, and pulling it together!
I do believe that I will never feel comfortable living my life on a stage for the world to see and there will always be times that I wish our lives were slightly more private but I also know that we have been given an opportunity to help people around us and if one mom that is pulled over on the side of the road crying gives herself a little grace because she read my story, then I have left the world just a little better than I found it...and I believe that’s the true test of humanity! Praising through the anger and defeat doesn’t make you a hypocrite...it makes you human! Please know that I am praying for you and loving you through any storm you may be facing!