Imagine waking up early on a Saturday morning and quietly preparing for a 2-hour run with your best friend. It is a very brisk late summer morning so you’re feeling the chill as you slip into your car and drive down your long driveway to the large gate which you keep locked as your property sits next to a relatively busy country road. As you are moving toward your gate you suddenly notice what looks like a car bumper leaning against your gate and you wonder who in the world would do that? It is still pitch dark as you exit the car to unlock the gate and get a closer look at the discarded bumper when you suddenly hear a very faint cry for help. You turn your flashlight toward the direction of the voice and then you see her lying in the ditch, bloodied, broken and helpless.
Fortunately you are a Physician’s Assistant and you immediately shift into a medical triage mode as you try to ascertain where all the blood is coming from. All you wearing is your running shorts and t-shirt, but you remember you have a towel back in the car. As you are grabbing the towel you pull out your cell phone, call 911 and then quickly dial your husband who also happens to be an Emergency Room Physician. For a fleeting moment the irony strikes you that, wow, if you’re going to get terribly injured this would be the place to have it happen.
In minutes your husband is there beside you, working with you administering emergency first aid until the EMT team arrives. By the time this courageous young woman is on her way to the hospital and her mangled SUV is being hauled away it suddenly strikes you that on this brisk, Saturday morning beside a quiet country road a young woman’s life filled with loved ones, memories, dreams and promises yet to be fulfilled, has been saved and from this point on your life will never be the same.
This amazing scenario took place 2 years ago in High Point on a bucolic bend on N. Old Greensboro Road in front of the home of Robin Lindsay and her husband John. The young woman they rescued that morning was Bekah Thorburn who was, at the time of the accident, 21 years old. Late the previous evening she had been driving home from her parent’s house, sober as a judge, and either nodded off, or perhaps caught her wheel on the edge of the pavement and crashed off the shoulder of the road into telephone pole which tore the vehicle into the pieces. Bekah was violently thrown from the vehicle yards away from Robin’s front gate. Her injuries were catastrophic; multiple ribs broken, cracked vertebras, both arms and legs shattered and terribly torn open, a lacerated liver and, most serious of all, was her carotid artery which was gashed open. The approximated time of the accident was 1:00am in the morning and it was not until 5:15am that her angel, Robin, arrived at the scene.
In those convening hours of darkness and cold, Bekah undoubtedly went in and out of consciousness confused, in terrible pain, bleeding and yet somehow mustering the strength to crawl toward the gate. She never gave up. Her incredible will to survive and the ever present grace of God somehow kept young Bekah moving and breathing through what must have been one of the longest nights of her life. As Robin thinks back on the initial accident scene all she can surmise is that Bekah must have gone into shock and then went hypothermic which prevented her from bleeding out during the long, cold night.
Two years later I am having breakfast with these remarkable women. Bekah is a living, breathing miracle who has endured 12 surgeries, can once again walk, is working as a dental assistant and thriving in a life that has been gifted to her by my friend, Robin who has cheered her on throughout her recovery. It turns out Robin found Bekah’s cellphone at the scene long after everyone was gone which helped in the reconstruction of the details of the accident and later reunited the pair. They have walked together for the past 2 years, in fact Bekah took her first steps at one of Robin’s “GO FAR” events (a wonderful nonprofit Robin established years ago that encourages kids throughout our country to pursue healthy lifestyles through running). To watch these ladies together you see vibrant, loving women who genuinely care and champion one another. Bekah is a survivor in every sense of the word, she radiates courage and fortitude. Robin, whose sweet heart and loving ways have always inspired me, is like a doting big sister who is clearly proud of and grateful for this amazing young lady who now claims a very sizeable piece of her heart.
I tell them both I have been where they are now as I once had the privilege of saving the life of a woman named Ella Mae Bowman who became my dear friend for the 16 years we shared together until her death. That relationship was, and still is, a transformative gift and a sacred responsibility I have treasured. I share with Robin and Bekah how in the Asian culture in which I spent my early childhood it is believed when you save the life of another you become, in a very real sense, responsible for that life. It is a spiritual bonding, a powerful, life-altering attachment that forever changes the lives of both parties. I believe it brings out the very best in our shared humanity and I tell them I envy the journey that lies before them. Then I consider for that brief moment in Tom’s Restaurant, my favorite morning eatery, how amazing it is that God gives each of us the capacity to intervene, to intimately touch others and save lives, both figuratively and literally. I realize this beautiful gift of life I see before me just may be what saves all of us, perhaps saves our country and maybe even one day saves our world. The gift of life… For good… for High Point… Forever…