A doctor in blue scrubs is holding up an x-ray, a picture of my daughter’s shattered spinal column. It shows a break of her twelfth thoracic vertebra. He launches into an explanation, using words like hyperextension and surgical fusion and extensive rehabilitation.
His words crash and ricochet against the interior walls of my empty skull; I have not grasped a thing past the word break. I conjugate the horrible verb. She breaks, she broke, she is broken.
She lies on a gurney, pale and quiet but fully conscious. Has she been told? She smiles, a beatific expression. “I feel at peace, mom.”
I do not understand how that is possible. My daughter is the injured one, yet I know that I have been broken, too. My heart has shattered—my spirit has crumbled to dust. I do not feel at peace. I shake my fist at God.
Weeks and months pass in which I drape myself in the semblance of normalcy. When a smile is necessary, my lips part and I show my teeth. I learn how to say the words that are expected of me. In church services, I hear people praising God for keeping their loved ones safe—for traveling mercies. I scream shut up shut up shut up inside my head. There is no mercy. I break, I broke, I am broken.
I can not find God.
You are so strong, they say. You are so brave. You are such an inspiration.
I no longer wish to be strong and brave. I want to crawl into the arms of my Father and weep out all of my brokenheartedness. I want to be rocked, to hear Him hum a tuneless melody of comfort while I bury my face in His shoulder. But I can not get back to Him; I am weighed down by the darkness. I am lost.
So He finds me. I am surprised one Sunday morning to find myself at the altar, and then He meets me there.
Look, He says. I look at His hands. They are holding the shattered pieces of my heart.
Look. I watch as He presses His hands together.
Look. He opens His hands, and gives me back my heart, whole. It is not quite the same as it was before my daughter was broken—now it bears the fingerprints of the Healer.
About the Author
Jan Ackerson is a Christian who has traveled though sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Contact Jan for writing projects at [email protected]