October 18, 2019
People have recently been asking me to continue to publish updates, and I realize that it has been a while since I’ve written. In some ways, I think that’s a good thing; the busyness of life has kept us occupied. In other ways, I see the need for it; the writing was not just a method of keeping friends, family, and well-wishers informed, it was also a way of processing and documenting what I wasn’t always able to say to Kristian -- or what she would not always have understood or remembered.
The brief details of our current life might read as a return to normalcy: Kristian is back home, our boxes are nearly all unpacked from our move, our son is an energetic bundle of babbling, seven-month-old precocious curiosity, I’ve even returned to work. We’re shopping for a replacement car. It almost seems mundane. But it’s still hard for me to feel like life is ‘normal.’ I’m reminded sometimes when I look at Kristian, or when we’re managing medications, doctor visits, home healthcare, and therapy appointments, that there is a tinge of strange surreality to it all; it in some ways feels like living in a version of life that isn’t real, or is at least hopefully temporary. I’ve learned that living in this holding pattern breeds uniquely contradictory demands: it forces you to somehow adjust to a new reality, but rarely affords any opportunity to remain comfortable in it.
This bizarre surrealism is somewhat akin to living inside a cocktail party hypothetical question: If given the chance, would you take some magic pill or potion that would suddenly erase every disagreement, argument, fight, and hardship in your relationship from your spouse’s memory? From one perspective, your record is spotless: a blemishless haven without any memory of the unintentional barbs that pierce every romantic relationship. My wife and I don’t hold latent grudges over past hurts. We can’t. She doesn’t remember them, and I don’t care about them. Whatever trivial arguments we had before seem petty and wholly unimportant now. Even mild daily frustrations are melted away and forgotten by the next morning.
The catch to that hypothetical question, however, is that by taking that miracle potion, your partner would also forget all of those magical moments and milestones: your first date, your marriage proposal, your wedding, the birth of your first child. This is the difficult pill that we’ve swallowed, whether we like it or not. That is part of this “new normal.” It’s particularly hard because we tend to associate shared fond memories as a proxy for love, affection, or closeness, and a failure to remember them as aloofness or spite. Forgotten birthdays and anniversaries can feel like a slight, but memory lapses are the real, unfortunate consequences of a traumatic brain injury.
I am constantly reminded, however, to consider myself fortunate. For one, our son is healed, which is an outcome that I am grateful for each moment that I hear both his gleeful giggles and his plaintive cries. And Kristian’s condition does get better with each day. For many couples with an ailing partner, the opposite is true. I also get to support her as she daily improves her gait, her strength, her speech, and her memory. We have the opportunity to make new memories, to create new traditions, to reestablish the habits and behaviors that represent the best of our love. It makes our relationship somehow more real; it doesn’t let us lean on “time served” or simply fond memories as a substitute for affection. I get to daily remind her why we married each other.
Our one-year wedding anniversary is this weekend. I can definitely say that, in many ways and for many reasons, this was not the first year of marriage that we predicted we would share together. It is easy, but ultimately unproductive, for me to wish for the life that we used to have. More and more, that past life feels foreign, hazy -- like a distant memory. Our new life -- this life -- has put the vows that we promised each other one year ago to the test, refining them with a fire far hotter, far nearer, and far sooner than expected.
I feel the pressure to be a good father and a good husband much more than I ever have before. But as the adage says, pressure and heat turn coal into diamonds. Each and every challenge we’ve seen, we’ve met. These challenges may make me more tired than I’d like to be, but they’ve also made me more patient. I have borne the weight of much more stress than usual, but I’ve also become far more intentional, generous, careful, attentive, and generally loving to Kristian, August, and others, in the process. It’s been hard, but most meaningful things are.
Every now and then, Kristian hugs me and jokingly asks if we can get married all over again. So I feel like that’s a sign that I must be doing something right.
September 5, 2019
Today begins a new phase.
Today my wife comes home, to our new house, for the first time.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to prepare for her return; making modifications, moving boxes, assembling furniture, and the like. It’s definitely not how I imagined things, but I’m realizing that sort of thinking can lead to a trap — a trap of mourning a life that won’t return. We can hope for an approximation, and I believe in her full recovery, but our old life is the one we had, this is the life that we have now.
Kristian often says the most poignant things in passing now, as if they’re easily obvious. It frequently catches me off guard. This morning, her last morning in the rehab hospital, we woke up and said that we loved each other (as we normally do). Then she told me that she was grateful for what she was learning from the accident. I asked what she meant, and she said that it showed her in real life how much I love her, since “nobody really knows until something hard happens if their person is going to be there for them, and now I know that you’ll always be there for me.” I remembered every night I spent at her bedside from her coma until now, and the difficult days ahead where I’ll still remain beside her, and I cried.
She’s right. It’s hard to imagine truly what depth of love you have for someone until life’s challenges bring it into sharp focus. In many ways, the life we have now, if not yet, has the potential to be so much better, more fulfilling, and more meaningful than the one we had. It’s a life that has seen both intense struggle and immense progress.
There’s something about looking into the mouth of destruction and despair that makes everything on the other side seem less threatening and intimidating. Two months ago, I feared daily for the health of my son and for the life of my wife.
Today, she is walking out of the rehabilitation hospital on her own, sans wheelchair, sans cane, and sans splint. I couldn’t possible be more proud of her.
Things will continue to get better. I believe it.
- Jason Edwards
August 3, 2019
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21, written on Kristian’s recovery whiteboard today)
Expectations are a funny thing.
I never expected to meet my wife on Tinder. But months after swiping right (and rightly), I knew that I had found my partner for life.
I expected to be moving into our new house with our new baby, without incident, on July 12. But on that day, I sat for hours beside Kristian’s bed, waiting for her to emerge from a coma.
I never expected to suffer a catastrophe like this just months into our marriage. But fate dealt us a hand that nobody’s wisdom can begin to explain, and here we are.
I expected I would have to wait months to hear her speak again. But less than a month after the accident stole her voice, a tiny whisper came back, and it grew stronger with each passing day.
I never expected that simple things like watching Kristian joyfully eat my food or feeling her fingers pick their way through my hair to scratch my scalp would nearly move me to tears. But these simple joys have become the things that I look forward to most each day.
I expected that I wouldn’t hear her say my name until long after my birthday. I even asked weeks beforehand for her to try to work up to it, as a sort of gift for me. But today, three days before my birthday, we’ve been trading “I love you’s” and “I love you too’s” back and forth for nearly a week.
So maybe I should begin to change my expectations.
I expect for Kristian to heal more fully and completely than anyone has predicted. I’ve seen the way she commits to a challenge. I’ve seen how the Creator has already begun to miraculously heal her mind and her body. To expect otherwise would be foolish.
I expect that the road ahead of us will be more difficult than we ever could have imagined, but will bring all of us closer than we would ever have believed. I don’t suspect that senseless suffering is ever ordained, but persevering through that pain can bring peace out of destruction, and hope out of despair.
I expect that whatever Kristian does after her health is fully restored will be exactly what she is still on on this earth to do. I am blessed to still be here as her partner, and to help her to complete those amazing things. There is much more that can, and will, be done.
I expected less. I should expect more.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and steadfast support. We still need it.
Together, we will rise.
- Jason Edwards
August 1, 2019
At day 31 since my daughter’s tragic accident, I realize that I have been holding my breath for 31 days. I realize that I have been willing myself to just breathe everyday, as I stood by my daughter’s side everyday just willing her to open her eyes; just asking God to perform a miracle like the miracles we see throughout the Bible.
Today, I begin to exhale. I exhale, because I see her fully awake from her coma and feel the glory of God at work in healing my daughter. I see Kristian’s smile return, especially when her dad enters the room. I see her stroking her son’s hair. I see her playing thumb wars with her little brother. I see her gazing in her husbands eyes as he plays the guitar by her bedside. I see her smile when she softly whispers his name and responds to his I love you with an “I love you too.” I see Her! My soul rejoices!
Kristian has made tremendous progress and continues to do so despite initial medical reports to the contrary. But God’s report always supersedes medical reports and God is working His wonder working power every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day so Kristian can venture back to wholeness. I have no doubt that God will fully restore Kristian because each and everyday I see God’s hands at work.
I see the miracle of Kristian. I see and feel it through the army of prayer warriors rising up, standing in the gap, and sending thunderous prayers and petitions to heaven on Kristian’s and August’s behalf. While the doctors may say we must now wait and “they” caution us about the outcome, I know that God is at work during this “waiting period” and I see it in every blink, movement, and smile!
My heart just cries out with joy as I see Kristian’s tribe rise up with positive light, energy, prayers, & renewal for her total restoration, literally just carrying her. She, we, feel your positive spirit!
I thank God for His continuing favor as He continues to send an entire village of people, prayers, and resources for Kristian and her family just at the right time and we are so grateful.
As we continue on this journey of faith to Kristian’s complete and total restoration, I am believing like Isaiah that Kristian’s light will break forth like the dawn, and her healing will quickly appear.
To God we give all the glory and together, we will rise!
(Kristian’s mommy & August’s Nana)
July 29, 2019
Kristian is definitely getting better. Although she’s only been at the rehab facility for a week, there are measurable signs of real progress with her body, her speech, and her mind. Medical professionals both within and without the facility have been consistently impressed with her improvement. I am convinced that the presence of our family (and especially daily visits from August) has helped Kristian in ways that we do not understand.
While I’m not quite sure at this point whether Kristian would even want me to, there is a temptation to enumerate each of these small developments. After all, this is what people want to know. It helps those who have no idea what else to do, or say, or to pray for. These are the reassuring words that demonstrate that it isn’t all bad, that there is hope for health and wholeness. That is true.
However, rattling off each benchmark or task that she completes also serves as a painfully cruel reminder of all that she was able to do before the crash. It underscores the reality of what was stolen from her, and it makes each of these tiny feats inherently precious. There is something tragically simplistic about the eagerness I have to just hear her say my name again, or the relief I feel each time she smiles. The value of these small treasures becomes an oasis in the desert; a morsel during a famine.
I also struggle with listing these periodic achievements because while I know they may provide reprieve for others, they do not dull the sharpness of the ache that I feel for my wife. Yes, they are still positive signs, but they are signs along a desolate road that often feels as unforgiving as it is unfamiliar.
This is a journey marked by the unknown. The brain feels like the sea: immeasurably vast, amazingly complex, and startlingly deep. Frustratingly, both of their respective bodies of conclusive research seem woefully shallow by comparison. Prognoses are given sparingly and variance is expected. The brain largely heals itself, to the extent that it can and in whatever time frame that it can. Nobody has satisfyingly concrete answers. Aside from the recommended daily therapies, the most prescribed curative seems to be patience, which for me, is in short supply.
My prayers now — for patience, for peace, and for healing — are my last defense against despair. Kristian’s recovery is an arduous and daunting task that needs support beyond belief and grace beyond measure. I pray for those as well.
Thank you to all who have kept us with them during this time.
Together, we will rise.
- Jason Edwards
July 23, 2019
This trip, from the trauma hospital to the rehab center, is the second ambulance ride of my life. While I’d rather not have had to ever take either ride, this second ride is markedly different. The first was full of fear, and anxiety, and panic, and despair; the worst moment in my life. I took that ride with our son, apart from Kristian, as she was flown to the hospital. Now he’s apart from us, but doing perfectly fine, giggling with his grandfather and aunt. I should be grateful for this, and I am.
But this ride is different. I do feel some of those same tense feelings, but I also feel hopeful, and calm, and optimistic, and when she looks over at me, smiles, and reaches for my hand — even happy. Perhaps this is the peace that Paul wrote about which transcends our understanding.
Even though she can’t say it yet, I can tell by the way that she looks into my eyes that she still loves me. And I know she can still understand me when I tell her that I love her more than words. So maybe we don’t need them quite yet.
I can also tell from her mannerisms that she was completely over this ambulance ride just five minutes into it: leaning her head on her hand, scratching her forehead with the back of one fingernail, pinching her nose as she squeezes her nostrils and pulls downward, her restless fidgeting, the way she idly slides her wedding ring around with her thumb, the slow exhalation through pursed lips — she’s herself, yet and still, even through all of this awful shit.
That makes things easier and harder. Easier because I can see her still; she hasn’t been taken away from me totally. Harder because it’s not all of her yet. It’s Kristian as seen through a fog, a hazy, muted version of her that feels like looking through water, talking through cotton, or running in a dream.
The first few seconds each morning after I wake up have been especially challenging. When I open my eyes and realize that we’re not home yet, that this is our new normal for now, it’s easy to feel lost. It’s easy to feel beaten down anew instead of renewed.
But while each day is a challenge, each day is also a new opportunity to be thankful for progress. To realize that as many miles back or off course as we may have been pushed, we are still a few inches closer to the finish today than we were before.
I still have fears. Fears that I am reminded of daily, fears that deflate my buoyantly naive hopes and lower me back to earth. Like when we finally arrive at the rehab center and the ambulance transport EMT asks me if she can sign her name, and I say no and take the tablet myself. Those fears still manage to cut through my forced hopes and prayers that she’ll return to me in all her vibrant, unique quirkiness. And there’s the part of me that wonders if it’s reasonable to even ask that.
But then again, who of our ancestors of devout conviction was limited to asking the Creator for only the reasonable? Since when has moderation been the hallmark of great faith?
So we’ll keep praying. For healing. For faith. For wisdom. For peace. For joy.
Pray with us.
Together, we will rise.
- Jason Edwards
July 12, 2019
As I write this update, it has been nearly eleven days since the accident. I spend most nights at the hospital, sleeping in snatches in the ICU by Kristian’s bed. That’s where I am right now, watching my wife sleep and make slow, steady progress toward recovery. Some days I do struggle waking up, knowing that we have to be strong and meet the challenges that our family faces. But we don’t do it alone.
I want to thank the Creator for small miracles.
Thankfully, August has already been released from the pediatric ICU, and is now home, smiling, babbling, and pooping like his normal self again. I thank all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends that have warmed bottles, changed diapers, pushed strollers, installed car seats, and otherwise helped keep his world bright and constant. Whenever I see him, I see a bit more of Kristian, and it gives me that much more hope and purpose.
Kristian is still in the neurotrauma ICU, healing her body and her mind. While she is still in a coma, she has been meeting and passing all the benchmarks set out before someone in as deep of a coma as she is. She has been making deliberate motions with her left hand, grasping and reaching for objects and stimuli. She has responded to her neurological examinations with strength and intention. As Kristian always has in all things, she impresses me daily with her achievements. She aced her spontaneous breath trials, initiating her own breathing and leading to a successful tracheotomy, removing both the ventilator and feeding tubes from her mouth. Shortly after that surgery, she opened her eyes for the first time, and has done so on repeat occasions, which meets yet another expectation for recovery.
Recent results of a second MRI scan indicate that anoxia, a worst case scenario, did not occur. While this doesn’t change much in the way of prognosis, it helps us all feel relieved of the complications that can result from the brain experiencing even a brief anoxic moment. Additionally, the areas of the brain most affected by her accident, while extremely significant and delicate, are not the most crucial and critical processing regions, which yields a bit more optimism.
Kristian’s healing is ultimately in the hands of the Creator, the medical staff, and herself. It is for this reason that I can be confident that at the right time, she will come back to us, fully healed.
For me, any hour that I don’t cry is still a good hour. I’ve been able to string more of those hours together into better days, and for that much, I’m grateful.
There is so much further to go. I want to ask the Creator for healing, for wisdom, and for patience.
I continue to ask for support. A burden of this magnitude is only made lighter by the shoulders of many. Through her tangibly infectious spirit, Kristian’s village is a sprawling network of friends and family who I am learning to lean on in this difficult time.
People have already been generously giving their prayers, funds, and even their own breastmilk to our family. We ask for more of all three, and for people to continue to support BLK+GRN, Kristian’s amazing business.
Together, we will rise.
- Jason Edwards
July 3, 2019
I guess I should start at the beginning.
On July 1st, around 1 pm, Kristian, August, and I were involved in an auto accident. While I was driving in the left lane on I-95, a driver merged into our lane without looking, pushing us through the guardrail and into the median. While much of the events in those short seconds are a blur, I can remember a few things. I remember honking my horn as she moved into our lane. I remember hearing glass shatter and metal tear. I remember hearing August cry, reaching through his broken window and pulling him from his car seat. I remember screaming for anyone to help and call 911. I remember yelling Kristian's name at the top of my lungs. I remember the other driver approaching me, while I stood there holding August, saying that she didn't see our car. I remember waiting for Kristian to be pulled from her seat as others crowded around to save her life.
Our car was totaled. August and Kristian were both taken to separate hospitals, Kristian being airlifted via helicopter to a shock trauma center while I rode with August in an ambulance to a pediatric ICU. I can't begin to describe the feelings and thoughts that I had and have had since. This entire ordeal has felt like a nightmare I can't wake up from.
In the midst of this whirlwind of emotions, I called on our family, who notified our friends, gathering and springing into action, becoming more of a support than I could have ever anticipated, despite their own grief.
August suffered several broken ribs, along with a subdural hematoma, which is bleeding on the brain. Kristian also suffered fractures and lacerations, but the most severe of her injuries was also a subdural hematoma, which placed her in critical condition.
August has progressed very well. He's such a strong little guy, and I couldn't be prouder of him. As I write this a few days after the accident, he is to be moved out of the ICU, and will likely be discharged fully by the end of the week.
Kristian's journey is going to be much longer, but I'm no less proud of her progress already. Traumatic brain injuries are a difficult category of injury, with a long recovery process and unclear prognoses. However, everyone who knows my wife knows what kind of a persistent and persevering force of nature she is, and we're counting on this quality of hers to help her pull through the work she will have to do to make a full recovery. Although she is currently comatose, she has already made amazing strides in just these few days, responding to stimuli and moving her limbs.
I walked away from the crash with only cuts and bruises, which has led to a burden of guilt that I've been dealing with constantly. I am already grateful to those who I've been able to lean on to help me as a new father, in their watchful care of August. I spend each day and night with Kristian as a new husband, striving to be the partner that she needs as she recuperates. As a family, we covet your thoughts and prayers, and any support for our long road ahead that you would like to lend is greatly appreciated.
If you would like to share any encouraging words, you may do so through this site. If you would like to donate to our family or support Kristian's business, BLK+GRN, there are also links to direct you how to do so through this site.
For those who pray, please do so fervently and earnestly. Our Creator is a force that wields power that we as humans cannot begin to fathom. We ask for access to this healing power in its fullest bounty.
We are grateful to all those who have already reached out, with their words, actions, and resources.
Before the crash, we had much to celebrate. Amongst these were our new marriage, our new baby, my new job, and our new house, to be closed on just ten days after our accident. While this timing feels excruciatingly painful, we look forward to rejoicing again with you soon.
- Jason Edwards