Reflections of a Traumatic Experience and Miraculous Outcome

LeviAs I type this, my wife and I are recouping from a traumatic experience. Yesterday, we had just finished wrapping up a T-Ball win over Sun-Drop, a very good team. We played hard and squeezed out the win in the last inning. We play for Sonic and traditionally we go to Sonic after the game to celebrate with free burgers and cokes. This day, Levi decided he wanted to stay at the ballpark and watch the “big boys” play. We grabbed some popcorn, burgers and drinks and made our way to the top of the bleacher stands.

Just as I had finished my burger and took a swallow of my drink to wash down the last bite, out of the corner of my eye I saw Levi go over the back-end of the bleachers. I shouted his name and ran as fast as I could down the bleachers to the backside where I found him laying on his stomach with a bloody nose crying. I immediately picked him up. I was frightened. I felt I had heard my son cry daddy for the last time as he slipped off the bleacher plummeting eight feet to a concrete pad.

My wife was immediately behind me and began talking to him while I prayed like I had never before. I didn’t know what to do but hold my son and call out for someone to call 911. Behind her was a friend who is also a nurse with pediatric experience. She insisted we lay him down. A gentleman gave up his coat for a pillow while she calmly talked to him keeping his attention and trying to calm him as well. My wife held his hand and I sat on the ground watching everything as if it were a movie and I had been cast as the father who stupidly took his family to the dangerous top bleacher.

I had a lady comforting me and trying to calm me down as well. Another friend came over who is an EMT to make sure there was nothing else that could be done. The crowd gathered and all the games stopped while we struggled to make sure my four-year old son was going to be ok. I could hear the sirens from the ambulance as it was making its way to the ball field.

When the paramedics arrived, I stood back while others made sure that I understood by his crying and moving that he would be ok. The paramedics put a neck brace around his tiny neck to stabilize him and I immediately lost all sense of togetherness. I didn’t realize it at the moment but a form of PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) consumed me.

When I was thirteen, I was practicing baseball with my team while a friend, Jonathan D. Hollingsworth was practicing with his team on another field. We heard sirens and saw the ambulance headed towards his team’s practice field. We all dropped what we were doing and ran over to the other practice field where we found Jonathan unconscious laying in a bloody pool. They were practicing turning a double-play when Jonathan missed the throw to him at second and the ball hit his neck bursting an aneurysm in his neck. They put a neck brace around his neck, put him in the ambulance and a few days later we were burying our thirteen year old friend.

I saw Jonathan when I looked at my son and wondered how his parents felt when they had to bury their own son while wondering if my son would be ok. I was scared. I didn’t know what to think. My little Levi fell eight feet and landed hard. They rolled him away while others were consoling me telling me he would be ok. My brother-in-law drove me to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville while my wife rode in the back of the ambulance with Levi.

For the next five hours, he would be tested, checked out, joked with and treated like a king by the Vanderbilt staff. I kept everyone updated on Facebook while the Little League’s Facebook page kept their followers updated. Everyone (so it seemed) was praying. No one wants to see such a young life hurt.

By the time the testing was finished, X-rays and CT scan, everything was coming back reporting no injury. By 1:00 am, we were being told the only thing he received was a scare, a bloody nose, and a scratch on his elbow.  They wanted to observe him over night so I drove back home to gather some clothes and refreshments to take back the next morning. Neither of us slept. We may have gotten two hours max. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Levi falling and hearing him scream daddy as he went down. It was haunting to the point I began to feel dizzy and light-headed as I lay there.

The next morning I drove back to Vanderbilt and we waited till just after lunch for them to tell us he was going to be fine and we could go home. He entertained the nurses with his intelligence and amazed the doctors with his resilience. They said he should have never walked away from that fall without a major injury.

He did!

I have been reflecting on this whole situation and asking God to show me his glory through it all. But the most important reflection I can share is the goodness of God regardless of the tragedy. I could question where was God when Levi fell and why did he let him fall. If Levi had not survived, I’m sure those questions would be even more presentable in my heart but I just believe that not only God has a plan for Levi’s life, something I’ve prayed for since his birth, but also that this was a learning experience not only for him but us as parents.

I can’t say what Levi has learned from such an experience because he’s four years old and only he will truly know what he learned but I can say that I have learned to hold him a little tighter which might cause suffocation because I already hold him pretty tight as it is. I may be a softy but I constantly tell him how much I love him and hug him all the time. I’m not sure I can exemplify my love any more than I do. Plus there is a little more sensitivity to watching him walk, speak, and laugh. Little things like those are most important.

I have learned that the top bleacher is not the safest place but we can not always be safe because life is and should be an adventure but we can be a little more aware of it. We can always look back and say I made a stupid mistake but mistakes are necessary for growth. So I’m not sorry for sitting that high. I just wished it wouldn’t have happened but it did and God gave us a heightened awareness of second chances.

So many sacrifices from people who made Levi’s experience a little better. From having a nurse and EMT immediately there to wonderful ambulatory service and the amazing Vanderbilt staff (all professionals) made us a little more calmer. I am amazed at all those who helped. If they weren’t there, I would still be holding him wondering what I should do. Probably running through the neighborhood with him in my arms looking like a complete fool of a dad who has no idea.

The community can and does come together. The collective prayers of the faithful lifted to God still does move God’s heart to acting in miracle fashion for those who love Him. I believe our faithfulness in him along with the faithfulness of those who were lifting up prayers on our behalf, which were many, potentially had the power to move God and he did by making sure Levi walked away with a scratch on his elbow.

God in all his goodness sustained us and protected our son. I will shout His praises from the rooftops and if I look like a fool before others, I don’t care because

  • “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33) and
  • the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18).

More reflections, I’m sure, will come out of this but the most important one is God’s goodness is incomparable. There is none that compares to Him and His faithfulness to us.

Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV)

21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
Levi at Vanderbilt




About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged

2 Responses to Reflections of a Traumatic Experience and Miraculous Outcome

  1. Charlie says:

    Kevin what an experience man. God had your son in His hands throughout, and you all as well. I am grateful for this story like many others I have read since I have been reading your blog off & on (from the pipes website I rarely frequent anymore). We will continue to pray for you all here and perhaps some day when I’m up in Nashville on a business trip we can worship with you at your new church. Many prayers keep in touch I’m providing my email here.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Charlie, thanks for reading and commenting. I hardly go to the pipes website anymore myself. Only on occasion when I’m bored. Thank you for your continued prayers. The doctors gave him full release however, we are still monitoring him to be sure there is not something that was overlooked.

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