Last night, I watched a touching story on 20/20 about a couple who took a leisurely flight that ended in flames and changed their lives forever. I have always been intrigued by how people pick themselves up and continue to face life after tragedy, never believing I could be that strong myself. Yet, after Trey's passing, I proved myself wrong and showed myself a kind of strength, though admittedly wavering at times, that I never knew I possessed! So when this story was previewed, I was ready to watch the story of a couple who persevered a horrifying crash and burns transforming their lives as they knew them.
I watched in attentively as the details of the story were shared anxious to see the rainbow of their storm development. The woman has 30 degree burns on a large percentage of her body that left her face unrecognizable, except for her eyes. The doctors said that extent of the burns not only singed her skin, but the very makeup of her facial structure, save the bone. She was placed in a medical coma for three months to ease her pain and suffering as her body healed and the doctors aided in skin replacement. There were times when her family was unsure of her survival. The husband was also placed in a medical coma for the treatment of the 30 degree burns covering much less of his body. After a matter of weeks, he was awoken and started his journey of healing. When the wife was taken out of the coma, it took her months to even allow mirrors into her hospital room and look at her face. Her motivation to finally view her face came before her children's first visit, which was traumatic to say the least. Needless to say, it took her four young children a little while to come around to their mother's new look. No doubt, this couple's healing would be a multifaceted emotional journey.
Then, the journalist made a statement about this being the hardest thing that a marriage could endure and HONESTLY, in my mind I immediately disagreed and my thoughts screamed "UM NO! LOSING A CHILD IS THE HARDEST!!". Yet my heart was still very much connected to the story and wanted to understand how this event could be the hardest thing for the couple, knowing full well that any sort of tragedy can be difficult on a partnership.
As always, I am so glad I listened to my heart. The couple began to talk about their healing journey and I IMMEDIATELY started to see parallels in the journey my husband I are still on in our healing from losing our son. All of the usual suspects were present: grief, guilt, remorse, blame, helplessness, anger, sorrow, confusion, and too many others to name, but couples who have been through tragedy know them all by heart. They both seemed to grieve for their former selves as my husband and I did. They seemed to be very open with each other, talking every night about the tragedy, trying to understand each other's experiences, specifically the fact that the husband left the engulfed plane FULLY believing that his wife was alert and right behind him (even hearing her voice telling him to get out) when in reality she was unconscious in the back seat and ended waking up in flames, alone. I can only imagine, even though they described it, the abandonment she felt and the guilt he felt after the fact.
The important thing is that they came through, not unscathed, but made it through as a couple and as parents and just like my husband and I on our journey, they had rough patches to get through, both individually and as a couple. Though our tragedies were very different, there were SO many parallels in our healing processes and our journeys back to life. I feel that they too lost a part of themselves in their tragedy as we did losing Trey and they had to live up to a new norm the way we did as well. They had to face so many new realities and feelings and had to lean on each other step by step on their journey of healing. Their story gave me a new perspective on life's tragedies and rising from the storms of life.
Though I believe that losing Trey was the hardest thing for us to endure, our love for each other made it so much easier than it could have been. I have come to realize how many of life's setbacks that our intense love has gotten us through and I am beyond grateful that I have this love in my life. Watching this couple's story made me so proud of them, for persevering not only individually, but as husband and wife as well, and I must admit, that same pride was felt for my husband and I.
The most important thing I got from this whole story, is the wife saying her inspiration for picking herself up and starting her healing journey was the fact that she had a beautiful life to get back to and she especially wanted to get back to being a mother. AMEN TO THAT!!
To view more details about this story, please click on the following link: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/stephanie-nielsons-story-tragic-crash-mom-lost/story?id=13574901