|Conner & Bob BEFORE the "incident"|
One evening we had returned from skiing and dinner to our chalet-style motel on the outskirts of Boone, and there was time to kill while we waited for our scheduled time in the group room. We were planning a time of worship together. At some point during the down time, a small but violent wrestling match broke out between Connor Lewis and Jennifer. There was some reference to there being a game of something called Caveman, and Joe Montgomery was implicated as well. The details of the event have always been a bit sketchy, but it is my belief that at some point Connor picked Bob up and body slammed her (OK, not really, but it makes the story better)! In any case, Jennifer's arm was hurt badly enough that they came and got me, I got Dr. Jill Painter, and together we decided she needed to got to the hospital. I got directions while Jill grabbed our fearless bus drivers, David Johns and Vern Watson. Even though only three of us needed to go, the bus was our only means of transportation. I have often wondered what the emergency room staff thought when they saw a 60 passenger bus pull up to the front door that night...
We went inside and begin to check Jennifer in, and things continued to be interesting. I pulled out the medical release form that all youth pastors have had students fill out since the dawn of time and presented it to the lady at the desk, proving to her that I had the right to secure medical attention for Jen. She looked at it, laughed at me, and proceeded to explain that those release forms are not worth the paper they are printed on. So we moved on to the next thing, calling Jennifer's mom to let her give the doctors permission. From my end, hearing only Jen, the conversation sounded something like this: "Mom, we are at the emergency room...No, the skiing was great...I got hurt at the motel....horseplay." She failed to mention the body slam. In any case, with Bob now signed in, it was time to wait. There were several people there, mostly with ski injuries. There was a rack of pamphlets about dealing with tragedy available in the waiting area, and we picked up a few to read. Dave and Vern had joined us by this time, and as we all settled in for the wait we began to look at a pamphlet entitled What To Say To Your Children When Their Friends Are Sick. We opened to the first page and read the words of wisdom that I have quoted so many times since. It read, "You should prepare your children for the worst. When their friends are sick, inform them that sometimes people die." And right there, in the middle of sick and injured people, the five of us began to laugh uncontrollably. We couldn't stop. We kept thinking of scenarios in which a child had their tonsils out or broken a nail and their friends were told "Sometimes people die." After Jennifer left us and went back for x-rays we continued to laugh and make fun of this booklet. They gave her a clean bill of health (her arm was actually fractured, but no one in Boone ever told us that) and we hopped back on our bus and headed back to our waiting group.
On our way back we (OK, I) devised a plan to shake Connor up a little bit. They group was waiting in the group room, but Connor was out waiting for the bus. He was truly concerned for Jennifer's welfare. As we pulled up we had Jen hide, and I got off the bus and went to Connor. With my most serious look, I told him that it was pretty bad. I told him Bob had not done well. And then, without a trace of a smile, I told him "Connor- sometimes people die!" For just an instant, his face and body language told me he was buying it. That was more than we could take, and we all started laughing and Jennifer came out and gave him a hug. Yes, I know it was cruel; I also know it was hilarious! We then went in and had a time of worship together, full of a new knowledge of how much we cared about each other. It was a great night.
Jennifer and Conner are both in my Hall of Fame. I have been telling this story for years, and in fact even had the opportunity to tell Jennifer's husband Jun of our adventure. It was truly a Magic Moment! I am so glad I was there that night, so that I have the skills to deal with my son Will when his friends are sick. I take his hand, look him in the eyes and say, "Will...sometimes people die." Feel free to use this in your own life, but don't be surprised when people laugh!
Because of Jesus,