The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Finding the sacred in everyday life
Day 36: My brother-in-law’s accident, part 1
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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By simplyfaithful
March 26, 2013 11:25 a.m.


Photo taken by Lori Ostling

Today I turn the blog over to my middle sister, Jaquita Lilich, to tell you about her husband’s terrible accident — the tearing of the pieces. Tomorrow, she’ll be back to talk about the mending. Be blessed…
Tony and I have been married 31 years and have had a great marriage. I didn’t say perfect, I said great. On Feb. 19, 2004, our lives changed forever.
Tony called and said he was on his way home from work. I was babysitting our friends’ 4-month-old baby and our 15-year-old daughter, Jessica, and her boyfriend were there with me. I said to Tony, “I hope I don’t burn our dinner. You know there is a baby here and I might get side tracked playing with her.” He said, “It wouldn’t be the first time I ate a burned dinner and pretended to like it.” I replied, “Don’t make me hang up on you,” and I did (playfully).
Jaquita with newborn Benjamin in 2007.

Jaquita with newborn Benjamin in 2007.

Thirty minutes later I was putting the dinner on the table, but instead of Tony walking through the door, Jessica came in from her bedroom. She looked like she had seen a ghost… She said, “Mom, some lady just called my cell from Dad’s phone and said that Dad has been in a horrible wreck! She said not to worry that she would stay with him until help came and that the highway patrolman would be calling you.”
Just as if on cue, the house phone rang. It was a highway patrolman. He asked if this was Mrs. Lilich. I said, “Yes.”
He asked if we owned a green Ford supercrew. I said, “Yes.”
He hesitated and asked, “How many people are in the vehicle right now?” I thought that was an odd question, but I said, “Just Tony, why?” He said, “Because we don’t expect to find any survivors. I just needed to tell the rescuers how many bodies to look for.”
I somehow remained composed enough to ask where the wreck was and to give him my cell phone number to reach me. I told him I was on my way. I was hoping that the woman would stay with him. I didn’t want him to be alone.
Jessica just looked at me and said, “Go find Dad. I will take care of everything else. Just let me know which hospital they are taking him to. The woman said he would be OK.” I said, “I will, but the patrolman wasn’t so positive.” Jessica said, “But the woman was with him and said he was going to be OK.”
When I got within a few miles of the wreck the patrolman called me again. He said, “The paramedics are at the truck. He is alive. They are cutting him from the vehicle and will transport him to Tulsa Regional Medical Center.” I said, “I will meet him there.”
My mind was racing. I don’t know how our minds do that in an emergency but I was thinking a million thoughts at once. When he arrived at the hospital he was semi-conscious. They took him immediately to begin assessing his injuries. He was strapped to a back board and had a neck brace on. He had cuts all over and was covered in blood… but he was alive. There was hope!
Tony and Jaquita at Colt's 1st birthday party. (2011)

Tony and Jaquita at Colt’s 1st birthday party. (2011)

Several hours later the patrolman came by to check on him and to return his wallet. I asked him about the woman who made the phone call; I wanted to thank her for staying with Tony. He said there wasn’t a woman there. The wreckage had been too dangerous to approach and no one was allowed in until haz-mat had done their work.
Tony squeezed my hand and I looked over at him. He said, “There WAS a woman. I couldn’t see her very well because the light was too bright. She talked to me and told me stay awake, that help was on the way. She told me that she had talked to Jessica and told her that she was with me. She said that I was injured pretty badly and she knew that I was hurting but I had to trust her and have hope.” Then, he closed his eyes again.
The patrolman put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, “Ma’am, I stand corrected. It seems as though there was an angel present there tonight. There is no other explanation. No one should have survived that accident.”
Join us tomorrow to hear how my sister holds on to hope in the aftermath — nine years later.

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