Greatest Gift

947269_525451940823303_1739071908_nLucas and I this year.

How can one near fatal accident and one fatal accident be the greatest gifts I ever received? Let me tell you.

The Christmas season makes me think of the great gifts I have received over the years and the Christmas season makes me think of miracles. The greatest gift I ever received was all wrapped up in a miracle.
It was Christmas in July, July 9th, 2009 to be exact

The Greatest Christmas Gift I ever received.

I got the call every parent dreads about midnight. When I walked into the ER in a panic I was greeted with the  devastating news that  Lucas had been in a near fatal automobile accident, his injuries were life threatening and I better say goodbye. Time stopped, everything ceased to exist for me except what was happening to my son. Something happened inside me at that moment, something unexpected. I knew without a doubt that God was in control and I knew (even if Lucas didn’t) that God would give him the courage and strength to fight back. I said to the Dr. You obviously don’t know my son and you don’t know my God. We are going to beat this.

This is part of a newspaper article that appeared in our hometown newspaper.
July 17th, 2009
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
His doctors are calling former Imperial resident Lucas Ridlen a miracle. The 27-year old
Gillette, Wyo. resident was critically injured in a one-car accident last Thursday July 9th about 9:15 p.m.
He sustained a broken neck, broken jaw, two broken shoulder blades, broken ribs, lost part of an ear, has critically bruised lungs, lacerated spleen and liver, a leaking esophagus, a severe concussion and blood around his aorta.
The vehicle ejected Lucas, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, upon the first roll. The vehicle then rolled two to
three more times, striking him at least once. Ridlen was unconscious when first taken to Campbell County Hospital in Gillette, then flown to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. He was later transferred to Elkhorn Medical Rehabilitation Center in Casper. No alcohol was involved.

There were a lot of things that happened that night that indicated to me that God was with Lucas. The first was when the accident happened Lucas was thrown from the car and ended up a great distance from where the vehicle eventually landed. He lay there in the dark a long time before anyone found him. The first hero that found him and sat with him until another came along was a black dog that mysteriously disappeared when help arrived.  Despite extensive efforts at a later time to locate him and his owner,  we could not find  any trace of such a dog in the area. But we know he was there, the teenager that found Lucas told us.

Now lets talk about that teenager. What makes a young man stop when he sees a car sitting in the middle of a field and trudge out in the darkness? What gives that young man an urging that he needs to search that field until he finds Lucas. God does. What gives that young man the wisdom to call 911 and actually be patched through to the ambulance on his phone to keep Lucas alive until the ambulance arrives. God does.

I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me at the hospital but immediately, and I do mean immediately when I was blindsided by tragedy, God took over. I was given the assurance that we would make it through this, I can’t explain it but I knew.

It took Lucas awhile to fully wake up and in the interim there were times of incredible stress but also incredible humor. Though not fully conscious Lucas was able to fight through the fog and make us laugh. Apparently he didn’t like to take his medicine because one time a nurse walked in with his meds and Lucas emerged from the fog long enough to inform us that Chuck Norris was his bodyguard and he wasn’t taking any damn medicine.
Another time when I was bugging him to quit being lazy and move his right side, he struggled to get his right arm raised up enough to flip me off.

God also decided to throw us another curve while we were dealing with Lucas’ massive injuries. This one I cannot explain but I also know God had his reasons. In another separate vehicle accident in NE just five days later, God took my precious niece and Lucas’ cousin Debbie home to be with him. She was a unique and glorious young wife and Mother that God decided He needed worse than we needed her here on earth. It was a raw kind of pain to deal with given our present circumstances but I was also reminded that I still had Lucas and since Debbie was now safe with God, it was ok to concentrate on what was going on here on earth.

It was a long summer and we spent most of it in Casper Hospital then in Elkhorn rehabilitation center. They trained Lucas to do basically everything again. He fought back from death and when he left the rehabilitation center he walked out amidst two rows of dozens of staff clapping and cheering him on.

That is without doubt the greatest gift I ever received, even if it was in July.
I was given the gift of receiving peace from God, I was given strength to help Lucas fight his way back, I was given wisdom and I was given comfort. I was given my son back.

What about Debbie? Well I have thought long and hard about that. I was given the chance to know this incredible young woman in a way many didn’t. I loved her as a daughter and I lost her. But I had her for awhile, we all did. She enriched our lives in ways that only Debbie could. To say she was a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine would be understating it by miles and miles. She was a gift to me for the time I had her.

For both these gifts God, I thank you.



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