Peripeteia- noun. A sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances (from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed.). According to Aristotle, "a change by which the action veers round to its opposite" (Source).
Sometimes our days proceed in predictable ways. We look to the past and see a string of them behind us, blending one into another so that it is hard to tell them apart. We awake in the morning, do our chores, care for our children, go to our jobs, pay our bills, tend to our homes, enjoy our hobbies, spend time with friends, say our prayers, and go to sleep until it is time to arise and do it all again. Then suddenly something happens that irreversibly changes the rhythm and landscape of our existence.
Such an occurrence happened in the life of my mother this past week. On Wednesday morning she left her apartment to take care of errands and shopping. Later that day she planned to attend church in observance of the Assumption of Mary (my mother is Roman Catholic). There was no reason to believe the day would be anything but ordinary.
But at around 10:00 a.m. my mother experienced a peripeteia. As she was making a left hand turn on an unprotected green light, she was struck by an oncoming car. Her vehicle spun around and went out of control, prevented only by a guardrail from continuing into a nearby ditch. It took the paramedics 30 minutes to get her out of her car.
Four days later my mother is still in the Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital. She suffered an open fracture of her wrist, a broken sternum, several broken ribs, and a hematoma over her right breast. She is slowly improving, but when one is 77 years old and suffers from osteoporosis, recovery is neither quick nor easy. It is also not a foregone conclusion. My mother has some tough days ahead as she attempts to reclaim what her life was before the accident.
I believe she will do it. Several years ago she fell and broke her hip. Last year she fell again and broke her jaw. She recuperated from both of those injuries with more "joie de vivre" than I have seen from her in years. Her faith is strong, and she has much to live for. But my heart aches for what she has so far endured and for the difficulties she has yet to face. I think back to Wednesday morning, to that split second when the crash occurred. How different things would be today--and how different they would be for months to come--if that moment had played out just a little differently.
I know that a lot of regular readers of this blog are aware of my mother's accident and have already been praying for her. If, however, you are reading of these events for the first time and are so inclined, I would most appreciate your adding your prayers to those that are ongoing. In case you were wondering, my mom's name is Barbara.
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Ps. 34: 17-18)