Collateral Damage

Death danced outside our door again.

His fingers long and reach beyond

the body that they claim. 

When my husband got home last night, he shared about his day. It began with a roll-over of a van full of kids and ended with a ninety-year old man being struck and killed by a motorist.

He posed a question. “What do you call it when you do the right thing but pay a price anyway?”

Two young boys witnessed the old man breathe his last. Their mom had stopped to be a witness. A good Samaritan. Death’s fingers found their way into her minivan and touched her sons. A picture they will never forget. An horrific image.

Collateral damage.

I have often thought to myself, “And that’s the last post on PTSD. Because, seriously, how many more can I come up with?” And then something happens.

“Unintended damage, injuries, or deaths caused by an action…”

Oh yeah. That happens.

Unintended damage.

Death takes one life but touches a sea of others.

Collateral damage.

I’ve struggled to explain what PTSD is like. Or better, what living with someone who has PTSD is like. In order to convey the width of impact it has in our lives as a family I end up sounding dramatic. I start talking about death and destruction and people’s eyes glass over. Who wants to deal with that?

Exactly. Who wants to? But some of us still get to.

And then I back off a little and talk about the affects instead of the causes and I sound like a victim. Look what it’s done to our family? Whine.

So when these two words came out last night as my husband was reliving his day, a light bulb went off.

What do you call it when you do the right thing and pay for it anyway? He was talking about the woman. The good Samaritan. She stopped to help but paid a price. But as he was talking, I realized he could just as easily be talking about himself.

What do you call it when you serve the community and do your job well and you end up dealing with unintended injuries?

Collateral damage. 

May we learn to respond to life’s unintended injuries.


God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time…










2 thoughts on “Collateral Damage

  1. Great stuff, Rebecca. To keep our hearts open when we know they’ll be hurt. To suffer with others when we know we’ll suffer too. I think the angels are silent before self-giving love.

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