Friday, November 19, 2010

Coming up on 10 years since the first time my life was turned upside down

It was a typical Saturday before Thanksgiving. My siblings and I had gotten up early to watch cartoons with the idea that we would be enjoying a lazy day before Turkey Day. It was at this moment that the telephone began to ring. I answered it only to hear my grandmother hysterical on the other end. I could barely understand her, but I heard enough to know she wanted to talk to my mother. I had just turned 16 earlier that month, and the night before my grandparents had been over to celebrate a write of passage celebration in the LDS church. I was ordained as a Priest in the Aaronic priesthood. It had been a very special event. However, now that my grandmother was on the line in a hysteria my thoughts turned to concern for my grandfather. The truth of the situation was more serious than I had contemplated. I waited in the front room only loosely focused on the cartoons. When my mother came in and turned off the cartoons I didn’t even protest. I wanted to hear what was going on.

I couldn’t believe my ears when she broke the news. Earlier that morning my Aunt Nancy, and Uncle Keith had been travelling with their 5 children for Thanksgiving. They were trying to cross a dangerous highway in Texas, when suddenly everything went wrong. They began to cross the road when they realized that a semi-truck was speeding towards them. There was no avoiding the impact. Nancy was killed on contact. The rest of the family sustained major injuries and were taken to the hospital. Keith died the following day from injuries. All 5 of the kids, however, survived.

Immediately my parents sat us all down and explained the situation for us. The first question they asked us was if we would be willing to invite the 5 new orphans into our family as brothers and sisters? We all agreed readily, but I know that I had no idea what I was agreeing to. I had no idea that I had just agreed to turn my life completely upside down in a way that would change my life forever. Lest anyone thinks that I regret the way things have turned out, I wouldn’t trade this part of my life for anything. However, it has been the most difficult part of my life.

The first years were absolutely the hardest. There were physical injuries to deal with for most of the kids. The youngest sustained major head trauma and only lives today because of some amazing doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital. Two other kids had broken femur bones, and a broken wrist. Everyone had bad bruises. However, with the exception of the head injury, these injuries pale in comparison with the emotional trauma that all of us suffered. The obvious emotional issues were with the 5 kids who lost their parents. They were rudely yanked from their happy lives and made orphans in a split second. However, for me and my 5 siblings life was similarly difficult. In many ways the emotional issues that my family had were equally difficult to deal with.

Though the catalyst for change was painful, I am eternally grateful that I have had this experience. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to take some time to highlight some reasons that I have to be grateful for events in the last 10 years.

First and fore most, I learned who my friends were. They were, and continue to be, a rock for me to lean on. In a time when I could have easily given up on God, and checked out of life, they reminded me that God is good and that life is a test. They told me that God obviously thought we were strong enough to handle this kind of adversity. I also learned a lot about dealing with unexpected changes in life. That experience has come in handy here recently as I’m going through a divorce.

I have loved having 11 children in my family! This comes in handy when you need someone to lean on, or want people to hang out with. There is never any shortage of activities to participate in. I love that we all get along so well because I have a huge network of friends that will be around for life!

I cannot believe that 10 years have gone by. In some ways it feels like just yesterday since “The Accident”, but in many ways it feels like forever ago. I can barely remember life before having 11 children in my family. It feels so right. I can’t imagine life without those kids in my family. I am so grateful for trials in my life. I am hopeful that my current trial will work out similarly for me. Hopefully in another 10 years I can look back and say some similar things about my divorce.


  1. Amazing, Kevin. I know we are going through different sorts of trials right now. I wish you the best with your current situation. I was having a particularly bad day today thinking about my family situation and this post helped me a lot to refocus. Thank you for your inspiring words.

  2. Kevin I remember when you served your mission in Mississippi and you said you had 11 children in your family and I was amazed by it. So much that I think I actually did that happen. When you told mom and I the story, I was so moved and so amazed that you were so humble at such an early age. I admired you for that quality, and still do. You are truly an Amazing son of God Kevin. Even though times are rough, you're humble attitude of thanks is outstanding. I'm very proud of you. Very Very proud. And very greatful to have you as my friend.

  3. I can't believe that was 10 years ago! But I guess a lot has happened since then... That was such a tough time, but it definitely shows the strength of each member of your family. You are truly amazing.

    And, might I add one more good thing about having 11 kids in your family? Having a HUGE van for the school dances! :) It was so fun to have our whole group drive together. I still remember playing Catch Phrase in the van with a flashlight when we had time to kill before going to the dance. Thanks again for always being the driver.

  4. Hey, Kevin, I don't know what prompted you to post this on my FB wall but I'm glad you did. Thanks for the healthy and helpful perspective and reminders. I know you and I weren't ever best friends or anything but if you ever need a listening ear, feel free to give me a call. Love you, buddy.

  5. What an amazing story. You write so well. I had no idea this happened. Thanks for putting life into perspective.

  6. Oops! That last comment was from me. Brendon is my husband.

  7. I remember the concern my daughter had for you and your family, you were one of her amazing friends in high school. She admired you and how strong you have been. She still admires you, I'm sorry you are facing divorce, life has some really steep hills to climb. I know you are strong and have the endurance that you need.

  8. Thanks Kevin. I admire your positive attitude and your unfailing strength.

  9. I'm sure you will have similar things to say in 10 years because you already have a much better attitude than 99% of those who go through divorce. So sorry this has to be your challenge but you know you have lots of support. I predict in 10 more years you will be happily married with kids :)