On March 16, 2014, every parent’s nightmare phone call came to our home when a police officer informed us that our 25-year-old daughter, Jenica, had been in a horrific car accident and flown to hospital. She had sustained several life-threatening injuries including severe head trauma. What followed was a mix of agonizing fear, raw lament, and confounding hope. After weeks in a critical care trauma unit, months in various stages of a coma, and six months in hospital, Jenica was well enough to be released and cared for in our home. The physical, emotional, and spiritual toll on us as parents, sisters, family, and friends cannot be captured in a few sentences — a reality true even now, almost two years later.
Having completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, Jenica was working as an intern with the Kuyper Center, a CRC campus ministry. She was set to attend Calvin Theological Seminary with a presidential scholarship in September 2014 and was involved with both youth and music ministry in her home church. Through her love of others, infectious joy, and enthusiastic relish of life, she was delightfully enjoyed and loved by the people around her.
However, with the accident, almost everything changed in Jenica’s life, except the shared love and joy of those around her. Since her release from hospital, Jenica’s vigorous schedule is dominated five days a week by therapy consisting of physiotherapy, voice therapy, speech/cognitive therapy, hand therapy, various medical appointments, and training in the latest assistive technology.
Given the extent of her injuries and the initial prognosis, Jenica has amazed doctors, nurses, therapists, and essentially everyone with whom she comes into contact. In fact, many have described her recovery as “miraculous,” no matter the worldview of the person assessing it. Jenica’s tenacity and persistence combined with her gracious and positive attitude have benefited her greatly and testified to others of God’s grace and presence.
Moving forward, many daily physical challenges and confusing emotional and spiritual struggles remain. We are filled with amazement at God’s mercies in helping Jenica to recover and progress as she has, and simultaneously we encounter moments of deep sadness with her and for her as she travels this new and indeterminate road. We yearn for what was. We treasure what is present. We wonder about what might have been. We find hope in signs of new, God-given possibilities and potential. Each day we carry our new understanding of the uncertainties of life and travel a well-worn path of reaching for the words of the poet in Psalm 130, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope.”
Jenica wrote about these same events. To read her perspective, see the Spring 2016 Breaking Barriers.
Update (April 28, 2017): This article received Award of Merit from the Associated Church Press 2017 Best of the Christian Press Awards in ACP's category "Theological: DEVOTIONAL/INSPIRATIONAL (Short Format) All Media."