By Tammy Kill
May 22, 2011 – the day our lives will change forever and our faith will be tested in the valley of pain and despair. Even with all the tragedies, deaths, and trials I have experienced in the past, this test will prove too much for my faith to bear. This day will be the starting point in a journey from that point of despair to bringing Faith home again.
Sundays are supposed to be the day of rest, right? For the Kill family of 10, it is usually met with a battle of wills, getting dressed, hairdos, and rushing to get to church. There we attempt to enjoy the message as we make countless trips to the nursery and bathroom with our twins (four- year-old Faith and Joy), and our youngest, rambunctious two-year-old Gary. For us, Sundays are not the day of rest, but more like the “day of test”: one we usually fail at miserably in the area of patience and longsuffering.
On this particular Sunday it was just the kids and I, as my husband, Gary of 18 years was at work. Gary has been a funeral director in our town of Lima, Ohio for 17 years. His job often requires that he work on Sundays. I had the weekend off from my job as a hospice nurse (yes, I know…funeral director, hospice nurse, last name Kill…crazy!).
After returning home that day, I found myself able to take a nap while little Gary took his. It seemed that God was giving me a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep.
When Gary arrives home around five, I already have that dreaded honey-do list waiting for him, which includes mowing the lawn. I will then head to church to prepare for the upcoming vacation Bible school. I was excited over what God was doing and the vision He had poured into my heart.
As I pull out of the driveway, my sweet little Faith comes running out of the house, “Mommy, please don’t go!” I look over to see Gary in the garage filling up a tire on that old green lawnmower with that same disappointed look as I leave. Once again I’m torn between ministry and family. It’s hard to know what is always right.
As I head to church, my heart aches. Arriving at church, I prepared for the arrival of the youth group. Within minutes I get a call. It is the call that will stop everything. Suddenly, nothing else will matter as I pick up the phone and hear my older daughter Hope scream, “Mom, Faith was run over by the lawnmower!” Devastated and shocked at such horrifying words, I felt unable to fully comprehend what I was hearing.
I cannot express what the rest of that day was like. A mad dash home produced absolute terror, as I took in the sight of my husband in the yard kneeling over the mangled body of our little girl. “Faith!…Gary!” Both her feet were cut, as was a very large portion of her left leg and groin area. Blood everywhere. To use the word my husband said over and over that day, “carnage.”
The next few hours would be a fight not only to save our little girl’s leg, but also her life. We would almost lose her, but to add to the severity and the impossible devastation my husband was having to bear, was the fact that Faith never passed out…she knew and felt everything.
Faith would go by life-flight to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, spending that night in surgery stabilizing her and saving her leg. We had no assurance she would ever walk again. We just tried to keep our minds focused enough to function for her. How could we ever process this? Gary was in shock. I later learned that Faith had walked up behind her father as he was backing up the mower. Gary had seen her playing safely on the other side of the yard moments earlier. Then the engine stalled, and there she was. It was a horrible accident, no one to blame, but unbearable all the same.
Faith would undergo 12 surgeries to graft her leg and feet. I watched as this frail little body was wracked with pain and depression. I’ve never seen a four year old depressed. She would ask me, “Mommy, when will I walk again?” All I could say was, “Soon.”
The real truth was I did not have an answer. I want to say that I held on during this time; that I was able to see the miracles we witnessed over and over again, even from the beginning with God choosing to spare her life. The truth is I didn’t know if I believed Him anymore, or if I even wanted to. I was trying my best to put on a good face; but as Faith slowly started to recover, I was getting sicker and sicker in my heart.
Faith would suffer many setbacks on her road to recovery at week six I started to notice blisters forming around the wound on her leg. I feared the worse; and of course that fear was realized – a staph infection!
The day of Faith’s 12th surgery, I was sitting alone at her bedside. I was agonizing over a surgeon’s decision to put the graft over her leg with the staph infection still present. I found myself for the first time since those first few emergent days of the accident, pleading with God. It was then I realized… “God, I’m mad!” I hadn’t been able to pray, read, or have much time to even think about my feelings toward God. In fact, I found every time I was having a thought of wanting to pray, I would keep myself busy.
In that moment, I finally turned to God. “Lord, only You and I know how I’m feeling. Here is my battered, depressed and beaten-down child. She’s in a constant state of physical and emotional pain, and there’s nothing I can do for her. Please, please do not let them do this surgery today!”
I realized then why I couldn’t pray. The Wednesday before the accident, I had a dream. I saw one of my children, with life-threatening wounds over much of her body…then the accident happened. Was that God somehow warning me? Was that the enemy? I couldn’t figure it out. What I did know was that if God, my Friend, my Father, the God of miracles, the One I lean on and go to in that private place of intercession was the same God that knew this before it happened and had let it happen anyway, how could I ever trust and love Him again?
So here I was, full of doubt and no possible way of showing Faith any kind of faith. Yet there, in the stillness of that room, God knew I was angry…and He was okay with that. A song started to flood my heart…
Holding onto Faith
Holding onto Hope
Holding onto promises I’ve trusted were enough
But what do you do when you don’t feel it
What do you do when you don’t see it
You hold onto Faith
Miraculously, the grafting didn’t take place that day. The nurse said that the surgeon was running late, so he would clean the wound again and wait for the following week!
As the weeks turned into months of therapy, Faith would come home once again in a wheelchair, and then slowly use a walker, and by Christmas only a slight limp was visible. The scars are still very evident, but so are the miracles!
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). Faith IS the substance, the reason we can hope. Hope not for a way out of our troubles, but a way by His grace to get through them. There is light at the end of a very dark tunnel that I must walk through with no way to escape. There the joy, peace, victory, and yes,faith are all waiting on the other side. Now I’m seeing that there may be no way to truly experience those supernatural things in this life; those things we can’t see, until we have gone through those times of soul-wrenching pain.
God knows all too well the grief of seeing a child in pain. He was there then and He is here now, waiting patiently on you and me. Through this I learned that God was not only bringing our daughter back home to us, but even more than that, He was bringing Faith home again into our hearts.
Tammy Kill is an RN at St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, where she has worked with hospice for the past seven years. Additionally, she leads vacation Bible school at her church, speaks with The Heart of God Women’s Ministry, writes, and sings. Tammy and her husband have eight children.