The power of music can bring people together and provide movement towards healing. For Amanda, this is exactly what she feels has helped her in times of suffering, and that she hopes to share with others.
The lyrics speak for themselves:
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn't trade it for anything
'Cause my brokenness brought me to you
And these wounds are a story you'll use
Let's rewind a couple years to a time of tragedy, hope, pain, and joy. This is part of Amanda’s story.
It was September 11, 2021. Amanda, her husband Ruben and their two daughters, Aliana and Victoria, were out hiking. It was a normal day - spending time together as a family and enjoying each other's company. They shared a meal together at a Mexican restaurant and stopped to fill up for gas. It was then that they would witness a tragic accident.
Amanda watched as a teenage girl was hit by a car, right in front of her. Amanda’s natural instincts kicked in. "There's an oath of being a nurse; you’re going to use it in life, not just work." Amanda rushed to the scene. The girl was unconscious, not breathing. Amanda started to perform CPR until the police arrived to assist, then the paramedics.
"It was a blur when it came to my family because my adrenaline kicked in and I saw nothing but the young girl," Amanda recalls. Later she found out that Aliana had called 911 and handed the phone off to Ruben. Meanwhile, Victoria was in the car buried behind her iPad.
"They took her [the injured girl] so quickly, and it was over, and then we drove home. At that time, we were in shock; there wasn’t a whole lot said in the car. It all happened so fast and yet those minutes changed our lives.”
"One thing I do remember is we came home and prayed about it. I will never forget this, my daughter said, we never can walk out the door without saying I love you." Amanda and her family had witnessed the frailty of life. They found themselves talking about what had happened, but not knowing how to cope with it.
Amanda spent some time searching for news of the young girl. During one of her 12-hour shifts, Amanda's patient who had lived on her unit for more than 2 years passed away. It was that same day, 5 days after the accident, that she discovered the young girl from the accident had taken off life support and passed away as well.
"I truly believe that if I hadn’t been there to perform CPR, the girl's family wouldn’t have been able to be there at the hospital with her. It was hard to read the articles to learn about who the young girl was and decide not to reach out. I just felt it was a gift somehow God gave so that they could have those last days with her in the hospital."
While Amanda found some hope in light of the tragedy, Amanda and her family sought counseling as a result of witnessing the accident. "My girls started to experience anxiety, discomfort, and questions, so in the weeks that followed, I sought counselors for the girls and myself. I feel it is important that seeking help is not seen as a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. We all had a different perspective of the exact same situation and needed help to process.”
Amanda didn't lose hope during this time. Through the support of Victoria’s Christian school, family, friends, and counselors walking alongside them; "I really started to believe we were going to work through this, one step at a time."
However, no more than 2 months later, there was a knock at Amanda's door. It was the police who wanted to verify that Amanda was indeed her brother's relation. "What made it worse was at that moment our RING camera was on. I went around the corner and my phone rang immediately. It was Aliana calling." Her daughter had seen the police on camera. There was confusion and worry.
Amanda was listed as the first family contact for her brother. The news was delivered by the police officers; her brother had passed away. "My family gathered, and we learned the awful details [regarding my brother’s death]. I truly believe that this kind of death is unlike any other. My mother-in-law passed away 4 years ago and my father-in-law just a few months ago. It doesn’t make it any less sad, but the taking of one’s life is different and has lots of stigma - it makes you feel very alone."
“That’s all part of my story too; trying to help people understand that the brain can be sick like the heart. But our world hasn’t caught up with understanding that.”
The shock and disbelief for Amanda's family, her especially, was there for a long time. Already seeing counselors, Amanda and her two girls were able to get the support they needed through yet another tragedy. Amanda remembered fondly “both of my girls wanted to speak at my brother’s funeral. Victoria shared a bible verse and Aliana remembered how her uncle called her Buggy. It was closure we definitely needed.”
All was expected to somehow return to normal after that - but it didn't. "It wasn’t normal. I fell into depression, I missed work, and people asked if I blamed God, but I didn’t. I would cry out to him and say, 'I know that you say you never give us more than we can handle, but how could that be true?”
The turning point was slow-moving. But it did happen. A sermon sparked Amanda in a way that made her want to share her story. "I realized after hearing a sermon on purpose in pain, just how many people I had come in contact with who were also going through extremely difficult times. If your story can help someone, then it needs to be shared. I was given the opportunity to send songs, sermons, encouraging words and prayers to not only people I do know but also people I had never met. Other people’s healing also helped heal me.”
"Helping others has brought me peace," Amanda says. "Something that has happened in my family is our closeness has turned into unbreakable bonds. We don’t shy away from conversations. We still talk about the accident and the girl. We pray for others, and we are open and honest about tragedies in other people’s lives."
"There’s nothing truer than God’s hope, but you have to let Him in." It can sometimes be a slow process, but Amanda's encouragement rings true. "You either turn to God or away from Him in tragedy. It would have been easy to turn away because of the pain. But I have peace two years later."
"You hear in songs that say peace makes no sense; I don’t agree with that, even though it sounds great. I think it’s peace that makes perfect sense." Through it all, Amanda has found that God doesn't cause pain, but sometimes allows it. Without what she and her family went through, her relationship with God, faith, and relationships with her children and husband wouldn't be as close as they are now.
Referring to the song Scars by I Am They, Amanda says, "I still get sad, but there’s so much that has occurred that has brought me to God, that’s why that song is so meaningful. Without those scars, I wouldn’t have this. It’s not me it’s all God. I couldn’t have made it through these things without it all being God. "
For a time, Amanda preferred to be around people who didn’t know her story. Amanda said, “it was easier to get through the days not having to talk about it.” But she found that sharing her story gave an opportunity to love others and walk with them through their pain.
"Hearing there is purpose in pain is true, but when you actually hear someone who shares in what you’ve been through, that has power. It can even open up the eyes of a non-believer."