Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Journey: Part One

We've been to the Frozen North and back again-- AGAIN. We had some wonderful moments, and some traumatic ones, but we made it through them all to come HOME.

This is all too vague, you say? Well, let me sit back and begin the story of our October journey..

(WARNING: I want to retell this part of our journey in its entirety for historical purposes. There are some graphic descriptions and images of an accident below, so please proceed with caution.)

First,we got up early and were on our way by 5:30am. In all of our family travel experiences to date, NEVER have we made it up and out so early. We were euphoric about it, other than the nagging feeling that we had forgotten something. (Turned out to be something very minor, so it all worked out okay.)

The weather was glorious, the traffic was non-existent, and we were feeling like traveling pros. YAY! We only stopped a few times, and made them quick ones. We were cooking!

When calling our friend, A, to let her know where we were, she told us that our usual route was blocked by a landslide, and told us a different way to go; up over Cedar Breaks and down through Brian Head ski resort.

It was BEAUTIFUL! We all got out and peeked over the edge at the majesty and glory of God's earth. There was snow on the ground in patches, and the boys took the opportunity to make and throw snowballs. Even a cute little ground-squirrel got to experience a cold and chilly snowball, thanks to Brennan's great aim.

Driving down the steep switchbacks of the road home was a bit nerve-wracking because the brakes were acridly smoking. Russell downshifted when needed, and coasted as much as he could. Luckily, we made it safely down the mountain and back to the main road.

So, we arrived in our stop-over town at the unheard of time of 3:00 pm. Our dear friends, the "H Family", were as surprised as we were to get there so early, but-- as usual-- they welcomed us with grace and kindness. We were all thrilled that the kids got to play, and we got to actually visit and rest before the next day of full driving. Brilliant!

The Accident

The big boys were lighting firecrackers in the front yard, the little kids were playing in the back yard, Russell and J. were chatting, and I was helping A. make a salad to go with the pizzas. Our friends' large dog was chained on the back porch as a precaution meant to keep the kids from bothering him.

Grayse had been going in and out of the back door repeatedly-- why the frequency, I'm not sure-- and she had just stepped outside once again. As I stood in the kitchen slicing peppers, J. jumped up with a start, his baby still in his arms, and stormed out the back door, with Russell following close behind. I could hear Grayse crying in the background, but I was still working on the salad, with a strange, slow calmness flooding over me. I heard Russell call my name, and I asked "What happened?" placidly. Russell said something about the dog biting Grayse, and J. ran in yelling "Will someone take my baby?" I stepped in and took the crying little guy, all the while feeling this incredible calm.

The baby was getting more and more upset, so I handed him to his big brother, and in came J. and Russell carrying a screaming Grayse. There was crimson blood streaked all over her ivory, pale face.

J., being a doctor, barked instructions, and handed me a clean rag. I remember running it under cool water, and squeezing it out, and carefully daubing her face, trying to see where the blood was coming from without hurting her.

Everything slowed down.

A. started handing me essential oils and tinctures, and I was dropping them on Grayse's tongue in between cleaning her up. I think Russell was standing beside me through all the this-- I'm not sure. A. was saying "This is for shock," and "This is for ..." I don't remember what else.

I think J. went outside to deal with the dog.

Grayse's right nostril was entirely sliced through, and her upper lip had a large puncture wound in the shape of a Mercedes symbol that went all the way through to her gums inside her mouth. I was praying over her, asking for her to be comforted and calm so that we could help her. I asked Russell to give her a priesthood blessing and he gently placed his hand on her head, giving her a blessing of comfort.

I kept talking to Grayse, saying something over and over again. I think it was "It's going to be okay." She kept screaming "But it hurts!" I remember telling the big kids to take the little kids... away.

I will never forget how red the blood was against my little Snow White's torn-through nose. Russell said something about "Our pretty baby's face," and mixed in with my own fears about her scarring, my adrenaline was raging, my head not grasping the reality of what was happening.

Grayse was fighting my attempts to cover her with a blanket-- my Girls' Camp first-aid lessons about shock immediately coming to my mind.

The next thing I knew, J. was telling us about a doctor friend he has that specializes in stitches on the face that he had called and was on his way over right then. Grayse still screamed, refusing to be comforted.

The doctor arrived in an instant, and as he explained that he would be taking us to his office, I remember thinking, "Can this actually be fixed? Can her nose be put back together?" He explained that he had a little 4 year old, too, and that he had fixed her nose when it had been hurt in the same way. (Though not by a dog.) Grayse was slowly calming down, as the doctor distracted her, asking her questions, and explaining that he was going to fix her, and that he had a drawer of toys in his office that he was going to show her.

I asked the big kids to hold down the fort and take care of the other little ones, and we got into our van.

Her upper lip was swelling, and the blood everywhere was clotting and turning brown. I remember cuddling with Grayse as I sat next to her in the back seat, and her calmly leaning over and kissing my lips. I was amazed that she would do that, even though she was in so much pain.

We arrived at the office in a moment. It was now fully dark outside, and we climbed out of the van, and into a large building. As I climbed each step, holding my little one's hand, I kept thinking "Is this real? Is this really happening? Will this moment ever end?"

The doctor was wonderful. He put some swabs of sweet numbing liquid into her mouth to sit for a while, and I filled out the paperwork. Grayse was now lying perfectly still, her eyes closed. When something was said about her being asleep, she promptly insisted that NO, she was NOT asleep, she was simply resting her eyes!

After being numbed a bit, Grayse told us in no uncertain terms that the big chair to sit in was "scary", but then she agreed to be held by her daddy. (Russell held her throughout the entire visit.) She really hated the "pinches" of the numbing shots and told the doctor quite firmly that she didn't want him to do that anymore!

After making sure she was numb, he carefully cleaned her up with a gauze pad and saline solution, wiping all the blood away so the wound was clean. I recall looking at her perfect skin, the tiny white hairs on her face glowing under the light of the doctor's lamp.

J. arrived telling us that he was going to fill the prescription for a powerful antibiotic. He also announced, especially so that Grayse could hear, that the dog was GONE-- that it would be living somewhere else. (We never did ask more about that.) Russell and I felt no anger or blame. We ALL knew it was an accident, that it was no one's fault, that sometimes bad things just happen. That's life!

Grayse was exceptionally brave. I am still in awe of her calm spirit through almost all of the doctor visit. Every time the doctor asked her to close her eyes, she kept them shut tight. She laid calm and still, answering questions when asked, all the time cradled in her daddy's strong arms.

As the last few stitches were being put in her nose, she started to cry again, saying that it hurt. Unfortunately that meant more "pinches" which were very upsetting to her. I clumsily tried my hand at retelling her the story of "Snow White," which helped a little, but not quite as much as we hoped. Finally he was done, and Grayse scolded the doctor with "No more pinches!"

Then came the bandages, which calmed and comforted her. We limped back to our friends' home, reality setting in at last. We all went to bed, Grayse lying in a recliner chair right next to me.

I hardly slept a wink. The adrenaline was still racing through me, my heart pounding. I kept thinking over and over again about how I was going to tell my parents the next morning, giving them plenty of time to calm down and find peace before seeing us arrive. (I didn't want my tender-hearted Daddy to panic, or for Grayse to see anyone's looks of surprise and shock at her appearance.) And everytime Grayse whimpered in her sleep, I woke up to stroke her hair, tell her it was okay, and rock her in her chair.

Finally, the morning came and we hugged our dear friends goodbye. I was very sorry that their children had to say goodbye to a beloved pet, but I was also so grateful for all of the tender mercies God had placed in our path to make the situation as manageable as possible: we were in a doctor's home, he knew exactly who to call to help, we didn't have to wait in an emergency room. We received the right help, at the right time, and in the right place.

The Lord did not keep this bad thing from happening, but He did bless us with help, peace, comfort, love, kindness, and blessings to eventually heal the pain.

I testify that the Atonement of Christ is REAL. He has the power to carry all of our pain, suffering and burdens, as well as our sin. He can calm the raging seas in our hearts and minds, and bring peace to whatever comes our way. I say this in His Holy name, the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.


  1. How heart-wrenching! I had tears in my eyes and a pit in my stomach as I read your post. I am SO thankful for a loving Father who can bring us peace and calm - and so glad sweet Miss Grayse was taken care of so swiftly.

  2. Oh Rachel, I am so sorry that happened to your baby. That is hard, hard, hard. I'm grateful that the Comforter was with you that day. ♥

  3. Oh, poor little dear! And poor mama, too! It hurts to see our little ones suffer. Thank goodness for good doctors and friends to help.

  4. Poor little Grayse! My heart goes out to her and your family. I've had similar experiences with that calm feeling coming over me during moments I would have panicked. I know that the Holy Ghost sends us that feeling in order to help us through trials like that. She is lucky to have a mom and dad like you guys!

  5. So glad to see the blessings that always come. She is a beautiful little girl and so brave.


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