On our road trip to Montreal, I read aloud portions of Mistaken Identity, the story of two families whose daughters' identities were switched after a semi hit their college van in Indiana. For five weeks, one western Michigan family sat in the ICU waiting for who they thought was their Laura to recover while another family in northern Michigan were burying and greiving for who they thought was their Whitney. Both girls were similiar in facial features, coloring and body type, so much that they were hard to tell apart, especially after the ravages of a horrible car crash. When the daughter in ICU was finally coming out of her coma and trying to speak, it became apparent that she wasn't who they thought she was.
The book is about that transition between the two families as they cope with the new reality and a new set of emotions. You also see their faith in God through both scenarios of having a daughter with critical injuries and a daughter that did not survive. And in the end, an epilogue by Whitney dealing with being the only student that lived and injuries that changed her life.
I struggled with the book and often had to put it down, choking back tears and unable to keep reading because of the emotions welling up in me. Especially as one of the moms writes about her grief process as she helps run a Christian camp that her daughter went to every summer. I skipped over many portions of blog entries and letters knowing that I could never get through them without breaking down bawling.
I highly recommend this book for those who are wondering how Christ makes a difference in our ordinary lives. The Van Ryn's and the Cerak's are amazing examples of families that seek not only God's comfort during intensely difficult times but His glory and honor as well. As a result of their story, many have written to them about becoming believers in Christ through their blog diary.
I contrast that with Reservation Road, a DVD I watched from Netflix yesterday, about two dads dealing with a hit and run accident that killed a young son of one of them. One of the fathers sinks deeper into depression, anger and thirst for vengence, fed by a website that dwells on the victimization of families whose children were killed by hit and run drivers. One of the fathers keeps trying to run away from guilt and fear as he tries to avoid the consequences of his actions in order to hold on to his own son.
Neither father had an anchor to hold him to what his priorities should be. Neither father had a direction that helped them discern right from wrong as they dealt with their intense emotions. And even as the story resolves itself, it leaves one feeling empty about what seems meaningless and a waste.
A huge difference from the elevation of the Van Ryn's and Cerak's story. Watch the Dateline coverage of their story.