By Nicole Cotter
Ed & Laura
The day Ed got hit by lightning was a regular summer day in June, 2005. He dropped his twin boys off at band practice at The Salvation Army in Vancouver. Ed normally stayed in the area and went for a run while he waited for the boys. This day was no different.
He set off for a jog with his iPod. Ed was scheduled to play drums at church that Sunday, so he was listening to the worship set in preparation.
It was a little muggy and a little cloudy. But not raining. So Ed was definitely not expecting there to be a lightning storm.
But shortly into his run, on a quiet residential street lined with trees, lightning came down through the branches of a tree and hit Ed. It travelled through his entire body and out his feet, through his iPod, up the earphones and into his ears. The crows in the tree above him dropped dead on the sidewalk.
Someone in a house nearby noticed him laying on the sidewalk and called 911. As he was put in the ambulance and taken to Vancouver General Hospital, Ed came-to a little, but didn’t understand what had happened. He couldn’t talk because his jaw was damaged, so he scrawled his wife’s name, Laura, and his home phone number on his hand and then passed out.
The next eight days were spent in hospital.
Both of Ed’s ear drums had been ruptured and severely damaged. He had almost no hearing at all. Ed’s jaw was broken in three places and most of his teeth were damaged. He also had second degree burns on most of his body and nerve damage in his legs.
A few days after the incident, when he was finally conscious enough to understand what happened, Ed didn’t know what to think. He had a lot of questions but nobody really had answers. No one saw what had happened, and all the procedures the doctors were performing were fairly unchartered territory for a lightning victim.
Ed’s response was to show concern for how everyone else was dealing with it all.
While in hospital, Ed would dictate emails to Laura to send to their friends and family around the world. Laura says his words were always so uplifting and selfless, mainly asking for prayer for Laura and the boys.
Ed had a few surgeries on his ears which helped some, and he also got hearing aids in both ears. He had to relearn what everything sounds like.
After he came home from the hospital he still had three months of recovery at home. During that time, Ed and Laura made some changes to their lifestyle and goals. The experience really put things in perspective for them.
“It just changes your focus. We were Christians before and we were involved in church, but it just helps you refocus on God,” Ed says.
At the time of the incident, Ed was working a lot, just trying to get ahead in business. When he started working again he made the decision to cut back on how much he worked so he could balance his time and focus on what mattered to them. The experience shifted the trajectory of their lives from chasing success, to putting more time and concern into relationships with their loved ones.
“For some people, success might be to climb the corporate ladder or work as hard as they can, but ultimately those things will pass. The most important thing is relationships with the people in your life,” says Ed.
Ed and Laura say what got them through the traumatic experience was their solid foundation on Jesus.
“I think Christians who have gone through a traumatic event like this, some people will question their relationship with God. But we had a deep understanding and relationship with Jesus before this all happened,” Laura says. “Having scripture memorized and having a deep faith in Christ when things are good is going to be incredibly helpful and that’s what you’re going to lean on when times are tough.”
Even though they did have a solid faith at this point in their lives, Ed says it definitely made him pay more attention to how he was living his life and how he viewed his life.
“Sometimes when you’re just idling in your faith, even though you’re involved in church and stuff, an event like this does kind of jolt you in a way. Your life is just kind of going along. It does make you sit up. Not in a bad way, but it was just like, ‘Here’s a jolt to wake you up, let you know that I am God and I control your life’,” Ed says.
“Like Pastor Mark says, God gave you the chance to wake up this morning and take your breath. Those are the things you just don’t think about. You’re just going on with your busy life; kids, band practices, and whatever and all of sudden you realize, oh yeah, this is the Almighty God. He does have control over every part of your life.”
Ed currently serves on our worship team at Village Surrey. He plays keys.