Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Warning: This blog post is very personal and will make your heart hurt.
So often we forget how quickly our lives can change. Then one day events and things stack to lead us to a particular moment where everything falls apart.
This happened to my cousin, Kristina (we call her Krissy) a couple weeks ago. She packed her two kids up in the car Tristan (2) and Shawna (5) to go spend a fun 4th of July with friends. She realized there was a line of cars behind her on the road and she wasn't going that fast. A mustang sped up and got in front of her and stuck his hand out the window motioning her to pull over. When she stopped the car, smoke surrounded her and flames as tall as she is shot up around the vehicle. She desperately tried to free her babies, catching on fire herself. Her two beautiful children passed away. Tristan on the scene and Shawna the next day in the hospital. Krissy has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her arms and legs. Her heart is broken.
I went to visit her in the intensive care burn unit today, honestly not knowing what to expect. I have been letting immediate family gather around her and gathering helpful gifts for her these past few weeks with the help of amazing friends. I've been grieving for the loss of these children and thinking about Krissy nonstop. This is so hard for all of us, I'm willing to bet it's hard for you, too.
There is something amazing in all of this and that is, Kristina herself. Her heart may be broken but her spirit is not. When I showed up at the hospital she was so delighted to see me. It had been a long while since we connected and it was great to talk to her. I say this with complete faith. She is going to be ok. I know she will never be the same and she has a lifetime of grieving ahead of her, but she is so very strong and her strength will guide her to inspire and impact many people throughout her lifetime. It's already happening. She excitedly told me about moments of intimate connection she and her family have had with people since the accident during my visit, moments that are almost magical and give you that meant to be kind of feeling, moments that you feel have some bigger purpose. I got to witness one of these moments, myself.
One of the hospital workers came in to clean her room and she was really sweet. We talked with her and she began opening up to us. She was having a hard time, it was her first day in the burn unit and she had never seen people in so much pain. We talked about how it put life into perspective, especially how we can all get sad or depressed and so many people have it worse than us. She was hurting. She told us about her brother. He had recently been sent to prison and gotten life without parole. She missed him dearly and said he always used to call her daily and checkup in her then hang up. She was having a very tough time adjusting to life without him and was sad. We talked about her family and Kristina shared with her that this is the path she must walk and her brother has his, too. She shared with the woman that she lost her children in the fire. The worker was overcome and said I can't believe you are able to speak to me right now. Krissy told her that she definitely is having her moments, but she caught her in a good one. The woman hugged her and you could tell she was very impacted by this interaction. She witnessed so much strength and grace. I know she will never forget this day.
Krissy is just 2 weeks out of a traumatic experience and she's already dropping knowledge bombs. This family is changing the world. I feel the ripples already. Do you have any clue what you are capable of? I think Kristina has realized if she can handle this, she can seriously do anything.
Krissy has a long road to recovery ahead of her and if you want to help her you definitely can. Please aid her with her medical expenses and general life stuff!
In memory of Shawna Mays and Tristan Mays <3