There are certain moments as a parent where you are reminded of the fragility of life and just how vulnerable our children lives are. Moments when you are literally brought to your knees and the only thing that you are left to do is cry out to God and ultimately trust him in ways you never knew.
For JP and Sharon Kloppers that moment was last year, on the 6th September 2014, exactly one year ago, when their 7 year-old son Jude fell out of a tree at the popular Keurboom park. When Jude hit the ground a large stick pierced his skull and entered his brain. Hearing his mom and dad describe the events of that day, is what every parent would describe as their worst nightmare.
These were the words Sharon wrote to her son , who they all refer to as Jude the Magnificent, about the events that transpired that day:
“Dad had taken all 4 of you to the park and as is your custom, you climbed the fallen down tree. You helped Ethan up and down and on your way down yourself, you fell. You hit your head really hard on a big branch and then landed on the ground. You were pale and not breathing, lying in a foetal position. People phoned an ambulance and dad phoned me. I phoned Bianca and we both drove around the corner to find you. Dad, desperate to try anything to save your life picked you up in his arms (all 32kg of you) and carried you through the park to the road. Bianca took all your brothers and dad climbed into our car with you on his lap and I drove as fast as I possibly could to the hospital. We prayed the whole way to the hospital asking God to spare your life. We knew there was much more to come for you and that this was an attack we needed to stand against with faith.”
“I’ll never forget that first moment I saw you in dad’s arms. You were pale, limp, your arms hanging down, eyes closed and blood everywhere. There was a big gash in your head and you were groaning. The accident was horrific and if you remember anything from it, you might have been scared but God was with us and was kind to us and it offset a run of miracles which should encourage you!
It’s hard to comprehend how parents actually get through a trauma like this, but from the very start Sharon and JP witnessed miracle after miracle as Doctors worked to save their son’s life. Jude sustained multiple fractures to his skull and a brain injury. He was operated on at 1am by two neurosurgeons and two anesthetists (one of them a friend of the family) and was in an induced Coma for 2 days before waking up on his 7th birthday! He showed such determination and courage in his recovery, so much so that the doctors had to keep looking at the date in the files. It made no sense to them that a boy with such a severe head injury was sitting in front of them, walking, talking and BREATHING!!
Jude The magnificent (as they the name so aptly describes him) was discharged from Red Cross children’s hospital after just 9 days in hospital!
Read the full story here on Sharon’s blog Just Engage and you will read for yourself the countless miracles that occurred during the accident and Judes recovery.
What has really struck a chord with me while following their story is that while most parents would hope to block out memories of a trauma like this and never have to think of it again, they have chosen to do exactly the opposite. They have chosen to NEVER forget the events that transpired that day but instead use it as a reminder of the way God came through for them. For them, the day holds such significance because while their child should have died he is still very much alive. They never want to forget the protection and grace of God that was on display that day.
Sharon says, As a mom, I want him to never forget what God did in his life and to know that sometimes we have to go through difficult things so that others can witness the power of God.”
While writing to Jude after he arrived home from the hospital she wrote this I know it might be hard to read these reports of how serious your condition was but when you’re completely recovered, it will be too easy to forget just how far you have come. We must never forget! This is part of your life story!
And so, this past Sunday, exactly one year to the day they decided to hold a ceremony in their favorite park to celebrate their son’s life and remember that day for what it is. Part of the ceremony involved planting a beautiful yellow wood tree in place of the one that Jude fell out of. That tree (although it had fallen over) was actually cut down after the accident.
Judes father JP said the most beautiful thing about the significance of planting the tree:
We want people to know that trees are still made for climbing the way we are made for living
Such simple words but with such power in them. He also used the tree as an illustration saying that trees are vulnerable, just like we are but that we should never lose sight of Gods protection or be too scared to live.
I had the privilege of sharing this special moment with them and over 100 of their close friends, family and hospital staff, the people who they believe they couldn’t have come through this terrible ordeal without. The way you hear Sharon talk about their community is heart warming and you begin to get a sense of how God created us as people and his design for us to live in a close-knit community like this. Looking around at all the people who were there to witness this moment, it was impossible to not feel moved by the very tangible bond that weaved its way through every person standing there.
As a mom I kept asking myself What if that were my son? What if it were my family affected by such an ordeal? How would I respond? Whom would I turn to?
As Jude read out a poem, his beautiful young voice being carried by the wind, so full of life, I was once again reminded of how much God loves his children and how he so often uses these things to show us who he is.
Sharon closed by saying this: “We only have one life and its up to us how we live it. It’s up to us to make sure we live it well”
Those words sunk so deep into my heart. I watched this family and witnessed before my very eyes the effect their journey had on all the people who surrounded them and thousands more. I realised right then that God’s work had been done and will continue to be done for all those who learn trust in Him.