It was the eve of the Epiphany, and my wife and I had taken our kids to the local arena for a public skate. It was a typical small-town Canadian setting: families enjoying our favorite pastime, children clad in bicycle helmets and snow pants.
Then, disaster struck.
My wife was raised a figure skater and is quite graceful on the ice. In fact, she is a much more natural skater than I am, even though I have played hockey for many years. Truth be told, I have spent my time as a goaltender, so I never needed to develop much of a stride.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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That said, by some one-in-a-million fluke, while my wife was standing beside me on the ice, she was suddenly horizontal with the frozen surface, and her head hit the ice.
It was a direct hit to the back of her head, and the sound was audible and gut-wrenching.
Never in all her years of skating had she fallen like that, and I am still not sure how it even happened.
Blood was streaming out of the back of her head, and she was unconscious. For a moment, we couldn’t find a pulse—although it might have just been difficult to find given the frenzy of people rushing over.
She proceeded to go into a significant seizure and remained unresponsive.
There was a brief moment in that minute that felt like a decade, where I resigned myself to the fact that my wife might be dying or dead.
Of course, I know now that it is unlikely to die from such a fall, even when extremely serious. But when she wouldn’t respond and the blood was streaming out from the back of her head, it seemed like our last conversation may have been the last she and I would ever have on this earth.
Our baby was in the stroller with our toddler and my oldest three skated over. I thought about them and thought that they may be witnessing the sudden death of their mother. It was a lot to process.
That said, there was, in a way, a feeling of consolation, as crazy as that may sound.
My wife had just been to confession a few days prior, she was wearing her scapular, and we had all prayed the Rosary just after lunch. In a sense, there is never an ideal moment to die; but at the same time, if we are going to die, then dying in a state of grace and in friendship with Our Lord and Our Lady is all you can ask for.
Thankfully, she didn’t die and was rushed to the hospital by the paramedics.
She did suffer a pretty severe brain injury and a skull fracture. Luckily, the fracture will heal on its own—a hairline fracture—and the brain bleeding stopped pretty quickly and the brain contusion doesn’t look like it will cause long-term damage.
My poor wife will have to now recover from a significant concussion, and it will likely be weeks, maybe months, before she is firing at 100 percent capacity.
She is improving steadily. Please pray that she makes a full recovery.
Since she was injured, I have had plenty of time to reflect on all the things you reflect on when such a thing happens.
If I am being honest, for the first couple of years of our marriage I was not a good Christian husband. It wasn’t that I was notoriously bad or anything, but I wasn’t a practicing Catholic and, as a result, neither was she.
I understand that talking about the headship of husbands is politically incorrect—which is partly why I love to bring it up—but it merits discussion.
Simply put, when I experienced an interior conversion and returned to the Faith about eight years ago, my wife swiftly followed. I understand that it is not the same experience for everyone, and I know that there are husbands out there who are still waiting for their wives to return to follow their lead.
But it is divinely revealed truth that husbands are called to lead their wives in the way that Christ leads the Church. This means that husbands are called to serve, direct, die for, and cherish their wives.
For whatever reason, and despite modern gender nonsense, men are the “influencers” in the home, and their actions and beliefs largely dictate the direction of their wives and children.
By some miracle, I was able to get over my stupidity and willful ignorance some years ago. But what if I didn’t?
What if I continued to ignore my conscience, continued to ignore God, and continued to think I knew better? What then?
Would my wife have found Jesus? Would she have gone back to the confessional?
There are a thousand “what ifs,” and there is no use descending down the proverbial rabbit hole; but it is worth thinking about.
In some parallel reality, I could have remained an idiot—well, a worse idiot—and it could have been the case that a worse tragedy could have befallen my wife with her soul in a much different state.
I am overwhelmingly grateful to God that such a thing did not happen.
Ultimately, all husbands should take to heart that we ought to lead our wives to Christ and cherish them greatly, as our brides could be standing at the gate of eternity in the blink of an eye.