Just When You Think Things Can’t Get Any Worse By Maggie Valentine Inskeep (May 1998)

I stared at the pastor from one of the local churches as if he were from another planet. I wasn’t sure I could believe my ears and asked him to repeat what he’d just said.

“I just heard about your daughter’s accident and decided to come pray with you all for her recovery.”

Again I stared, too much in a state of shock to say anything, as several people around me, including strangers, unquestioningly and obediently held hands and bowed their heads while this man I’d never seen or heard of before began to pray.

I got up and walked out of the Intensive Care Unit waiting room down the hall to look once again through the window of the ICU door. Jayme had been in a serious car accident the day before and lay in a coma in a small cubicle on the other side of the door. The brain stem injury that would cause her to remain comatose for several weeks was the worst of several injuries she had sustained.

A nurse at the desk just inside the door indicated that it would be all right to come in for a few moments. I had to maneuver around and through a semicircle of monitors, tubes, and machines, including the one that was breathing for Jayme. I touched her hair and kissed her cheek, telling her what I was doing and why she was there, just in case she could hear and understand me.

Doctors had not given us much reason to hope, and quite frankly, I think I felt as if I were just waiting to say goodbye. But she was still alive, and if there was any chance Jayme would respond to me in any way, no matter how small, I was not going to quit trying to communicate with her. The nurse came in, put her arm around my waist and said, “I know sometimes it’s hard to understand God’s ways. It’s best not to question and just try to accept.”

Several weeks later, when Jayme had begun to respond to various stimuli and the outlook was somewhat improved, the doctor told us we could finally relax a bit about a few concerns, especially the concern that because she was bedridden and had sustained a lung injury, she would develop pneumonia, a complication that could be fatal. When I told a woman I worked with the happy news, she said, “See, God has been looking out for Jayme.”

Jayme not only lived, but has made a remarkable recovery. Now, nearly five years after the accident that almost took her life, she’s a junior at The University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she intends to study occupational therapy. It has not been an easy journey. She was eighteen when the accident occurred, and she had to learn how to walk and talk all over again. There were months and months of physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Her limitations have become hard to discern, yet she continues to strive for improvement. I have never known anyone with so much strength and determination.

In the months and years since Jayme’s accident, I have heard over and over again the various platitudes you always hear from the simple minded religious when something bad happens.

“It was God’s will.”

“God has certainly watched over Jayme’s recovery.”

“What goes ’round, comes ’round –you should look into your heart and your past to see where you have sinned so badly to deserve this, and then repent.”

“This happened to test your faith.”

“I hope you praise God every day for all He has done for you and your daughter.”

“Jayme’s recovery is proof of God’s love and power.”

“See, miracles do happen.” And on and on, and so forth.

I recently watched Jayme as she and her boyfriend Eric laughed and joked about a television program they had watched. Her blue eyes sparkled, her laughter reverberated through the room. What I find so amazing is the fact that so few people can see that the “miracle” that is Jayme is the result of scientific knowledge and research, outstanding medical care, Jayme’s own drive and determination, and the love and support she received from those who love her. I will never understand why reality is so hard for so many to accept. And I’ve always wondered–if there really were this loving, concerned God up yonder in the first place, where was he when Jayme had her accident?

The writer, a Foundation member living in Colorado, works as a freight handler. She often “accidentally” leaves copies of Freethought Today lying in local coffee shops to spread the word. She has written a manuscript, “64-1/2 Man-Free Activities for Women Who Think Men Are the Answer to Everything.” It’s not a “cute male basher,” she explains, but an encouragement of female self-sufficiency.

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