Sunday, August 24, 2008

Carly in hospital, entertainment reviewer gig, more.

Wow, what a whirlwind month. Today I'll be sharing some deeply personal things, borderline too sacred to post here, but I do so in hopes that it'll fortify the faith of those who read it. But before I get to the heavy stuff, here's a quick update on me and mine:

- Dad and Carol celebrate their first anniversary this week! Love you guys, and congratulations.

- I just had my first week of my second year of grad school. Twenty years of school down, one to go! I love my professors, I really do. Scott Ketring (who's LDS) is my professor right now. He goes on hilarious, ranting tangents all the time. Tommy threw another "butt-pickin' BBQ" for those graduating and their families. I've gone from seeing clients for maybe 2 hours once a week to having clients every day, so that's cool. I really do love therapy. This is so the right fit for me.

- I got an internship at the juvenile detention facility. Go me. This'll be good.

- I stepped behind the camera and directed for the first time in 3 years! It was a funny commercial for the Teen Advisory Board, with whom I have my assistantship. I also doubled for the lead actor for the big stunt involving a human body (mine) hitting a tree at full speed! I miss it all, so this was a lot of fun. I was also involved in radio ads that we recorded in Montgomery. I'm so proud of our kids, they've performed their hearts out in these things.

- I've been having fun playing with the Young Single Adults in my branch. We went to a couple of dances in Georgia (I met a girl who nearly outbelched me), had some late night Waffle House, hung out at the Beesley's (he's the institute rep for the South) playing dodgeball on their trampoline. We've played sand volleyball and had a pizza party, pool volleyball and had hot wings, ultimate frisbee, kick the can. This weekend my buddy threw a Barbeque and a party. We've had a lot of fun together. I love my friends here.

- I got a gig at the Mormon website Meridian Magazine as an entertainment columnist. I wrote in a rebuttal to a review that called The Dark Knight sadistic and immoral, in which I argued that it's actually one of the more morally-centered films of recent years. They published my rebuttal as an article and invited me to be a regular for them! Pretty cool. I've done a second article on Brian Regan. You can see my stuff here: Just look for anything with my name on it.

- Yesterday we had tornadoes touch down a few miles away. The sirens went off to alert the city, twice at about 7 pm and once at about 3 in the morning. The tornado warning tower is about forty yards from my house; I'm going to be crushed by the very thing that is warning me of danger. We had a tropical storm blow through yesterday; it was scary and gorgeous (just how I like my women. Rowr.)


- My niece Clair had brain surgery for a large tuber which was contributing to major, involuntary, and continuous seizures. The surgery was successful, and Summer (her mama) tells me that Clair seems so much happier and has so much more energy now that the seizures aren't zapping all her energy. I believe so much in the power of fasting and prayer. And Claire is the cutest. Just look at her!

- My cousin Carly, who I adore (people often say that we are the opposite-gender counterparts of each other), was in Georgia for a friend's wedding. She came with her friend Nicole Rich to a dance in Georgia, where we all met up and had a blast. Now, to mention the tender mercies of the Lord, I spent all Saturday on 3 hours sleep, shooting a commercial in the humid sun of Alabama. I went home and went to sleep. My body woke itself up after a few hours; two minutes later I got a call from my cousin Dallin (my phone had been on silent) telling me that Carly was in critical condition at the hospital, had been in a car accident on the way from the wedding to the reception. One of the passengers was dead on the scene, and Carly had a fracture in her neck. With her immediate family across the country in Utah, I left immediately for Macon, GA. Another tender mercy: I didn't have enough money in my bank account to pay for gas, and then suddenly I did. I don't know how.

I arrived late at night and met some of Carly's friends who were by her bedside as she slept. They told me the story of how the car got rear-ended at an angle while waiting at a red light, by a car that was going 65 mph by the time it hit them. The person who died was the groom's mission companion. Carly's roommate Nicole Rich had a hemorrage in her brain; the doctors performed brain surgery, and when I got there Nicole's status was a complete wild card: forseeably she could die, have brain damage, or make a full recovery. Nicole also had a cracked femur, which I hear is terribly painful. Carly had a fracture in her neck, an inch away from paralyzation; she also had a dislocated hip (which had already been set when I got there), vertebrae out of alignment, a concussion, and a nasty gash on her forehead. The driver and the shotgun rider had whiplash, and one of them had temporary amnesia, but both were released within 24 hours. The bride (Kimberly Whigham), the groom (Doug), the parents of the bride, and several others were there.

The newlyweds postponed their honeymoon and spent the weekend tending to their friends. The parents of the bride were some of the most faithful, genuine, thoughtful, and friendly people I'd ever met. The whole weekend, there was a tremendous outpouring of the Spirit of God. I haven't felt it so strongly since the two weeks after my mother died. So much love and genuine concern. So much optimism and gratitude in the face of tragedy. Instead of mourning the loss of their wedding weekend, the newlyweds were united in love for their friends and for each other. The Latter-Day Saints in Macon, Georgia didn't know any of us (the wedding was two hours away in Atlanta), but there was more food than we knew what to do with the whole weekend. Sister missionaries came and sang. Priesthood holders gave Carly a blessing before I got there, and brought us the sacrament on Sunday. Carly's Nauvoo performance friends sang with us in her room. Even though she was weakened, Carly's voice was still angelic.

Carly was a big hit with the doctors and nurses. She was so genuinely cheerful, and was always thanking them, making small talk, getting to know them. I have no doubt that they visited her room more than they had to just because they liked her. The only time she wasn't upbeat was when she thought of her friend Nicole, whose condition was still uncertain; Carly's concern for her was always on her mind, and she cried quite a bit out of worry for her, and when Nicole's parents arrived from Utah. Otherwise, she was cracking jokes left and right. The best was when a strong black male nurse came and helped her adjust in bed. He cradled her with one arm, and adjusted her bedding underneath her as he hoisted her up. Carly deadpanned "Ooo, muscles!" which made us all laugh and him blush a bit. He said: "Sorry I had to get so close," and Carly shamelessly replied "You can hold me tight anytime you want!" It was fantastic.

Carly also kept worrying if I was comfortable, especially as I slept in the reclining chair. For someone in her situation, I found that incredibly sweet. She's truly a Peterson. I read scriptures to Carly, prayed with her, sang to her. I slept in a reclining chair next to her in case she needed anything. We swapped stupid jokes. Everyone's making a big deal about my being there, but I don't think too much of it, for 3 reasons:
1) My mom raised me right (Dad, you helped too).
2) I didn't do anything anyone in my family wouldn't have done.
3) I got to sleep in, eat free food, and flirt with Carly's friends. Nobody say I didn't get anything out of this!

Lindsey (Carly's sister) flew across the country on the earliest flight she could find (8 am Utah time), but with the time zone differential, she arrived in Macon at 5 pm. Lindsey is terrific. She, Carly, and I had a little slumber party, and Lindsey washed Carly's hair, which at that point still had dried blood in it. We had a great time. At about this point the driver and shotgun passenger were released, and they came down to visit Carly. I was on the phone with Robyn (my aunt, Carly's mom) very, very often. Robyn couldn't fly for her own health reasons, and not being able to be there made her sick with worry, though good reports on Carly's health soothed her.

On Monday, in the afternoon, I prepared to go back to Auburn, leaving Carly in the good hands of her wonderful sister, as I had class the next day. Carly gave me one of the sweetest hugs I've ever had. As I got in my car, I had the distinct prompting to go back and give Carly a priesthood blessing. I obeyed, asking Nicole Rich's father to assist. In that blessing, along with blessings of physical comfort on Carly, I blessed her to no longer worry about Nicole, that the Lord would take care of her, and that she would be alright. The words came so clearly, and the peace from the Lord was so undeniable, that I don't think any of us were surprised when Nicole started making huge steps to recovery this week. I don't claim credit in the slightest; I was the messenger, but I rejoice in the tender mercies of the Lord and for the privilege to act and speak in His name. I know that God lives, that He is our Father, and that He and our Savior Jesus Christ know us, love us, and are mindful of us individually.

Carly is now back in Utah, where she has a long and painful recovery ahead of her. Nicole has been released from the ICU. The deceased young man had his viewing tonight. Please keep everyone in your prayers. Love y'all.



The Driggs said...

Congrats on starting your last year of school. As far as you being a stuntman, I always knew you to be a tree hugger, but now you just went too far! Awesome article on Brian Regan. I agreed with everything you said (I even have a link to his clips on the side of my blog). And yes, Claire is the cutest. And those were some pretty cool stories about you all of a sudden having money in your account for gas, as well as you feeling prompted to go back and give Carly a blessing about her friend. I'm sure you really relieved Robin during times that were hard for her to not be there. You're awesome and I love you!

The Scotts said...

That was a sweet report Jono. You are a great guy. I must have been an amazing older sister!! It was probably all of those mornings that I spent with you driving you to school as I sang to you. Don't laugh. Congrats on the last year of school, scary tornado warnings and glad that you are alive, thanks for calling me back to tell me how school went and that you got home from Carly's safe. Glad that you are safe. Love you Shanon

Lindsay said...

Jono, you were a life saver. As soon as we found out what happened the two people we tried to get a hold of were my dad (so we could notify him) and you (so Carly could have family with her). I know having a loved and familiar face was comforting to her and you were the best person to keep her company and get her mind of her worries. We will always be thankful you could be there for us. Love you, Jono.

Kayz said...

Your poor cousin, Carly and everyone involved. It sure speaks volumes for Carly to be so upbeat and to have pictures of her with cuts AND huge smiles! She seems like an incredible person.