Sonya Hunter remembers the day — May 19, 2006. She had only one week left of work before she planned to leave her job to become a stay-at-home mother for her two boys.
She recalls going to work that day, as usual, but began to have a “weird gut feeling” that something wasn’t right.
Hunter had been waiting at her job, Red River Rehab in Madill, Oklahoma, for her husband Kris — who was driving with their children to pick her up from work and take them to lunch.
The commute should have been 20 minutes. But Hunter grew worried after 30 minutes went by and her husband had not yet arrived. After she gave him a call and he didn’t pick up, she became even more worried.
Eventually, two policemen arrived and told her that her husband and kids were involved in a car accident. She was told that her husband and one of her sons had been killed. The other son was rushed to a local hospital before being airlifted to a Dallas hospital as he clung to life in what turned out to be a monthslong ordeal.
During the latest episode of the “Cancel This” Podcast, Hunter shares her story, which is also featured in her book Unsurvivable: Even in the darkest storm, always find your rainbow! She opens up about how she relied on her relationship with Jesus Christ to help her cope with the insurmountable pain surrounding her grief.
“That’s the worst feeling you could ever imagine. ... We had our whole life ahead of us,” she said. “You almost think you’re invincible to a point. ... You just don’t think things happen to you like that. ... It was beyond devastating.”
Immediately after hearing the news of the death of her son and husband and life-threatening injuries to her other son, Hunter said her immediate reaction was to “crumble to the ground in pain.” She later found out that her 6-year-old son, Adam, had passed away while her 19-month-old son, Connor, was battling spinal injuries.
“It was almost like a paralyzing feeling to me. At that moment, I was wishing it would have been me in the accident. … It’s just a pain that you can’t explain to somebody,” Hunter said to the podcasts’ host, Jason Sautel.
“It’s bad enough to lose your spouse, who’s your rock and the love of your life, but then … knowing that you lost a child and not sure if your other child is even going to make it, is just a [tough] feeling.”
Hunter said if it wasn’t for the Lord, she doesn’t know how she would have continued forward in her life.
“I really don’t know how people can go through such a tragedy without God in their life,” Hunter said.
When Hunter first arrived at the hospital, she was told doctors didn’t expect Connor to survive through the night.
“I had told all my friends and family that we need the whole world praying for Connor. We need a miracle,” she said. “I’ll never truly know on this side of Heaven how many people were honestly praying for him to survive. Clearly, he did survive.”
Hunter said one of her mottos is “faith over fear.”
“When that fear starts creeping in, you got to dig deep and respond to your faith because God is the only One who can truly help you through a time like that,” she said.
At the local hospital, Hunter’s father broke the news to her about which of her sons had died.
“It was horrible. The worst thing ever. … It almost seemed like a dream, like this couldn’t be real,” she described. “I’ll never forget walking up to my dad and asking him, ‘which one of my babies is alive?’” she continued.
“And when he told me it was Connor, I just saw the reality hit me because at that moment I knew Adam, my 6-year-old, my fun-loving, spiderman-loving little boy was no longer here. ... I wasn’t sure how I was going to navigate this.”
When Hunter entered the hospital room where Conner was, she remembers seeing the toddler laying down “completely lifeless” as he was given oxygen.
She said a motivation for writing the book is that Connor was in an unsurvivable wreck, and she feels her emotional pain and agony should have been “unsurvivable.”
“What I went through was unsurvivable,” she said. “Without God in my life and having Christian parents that raised us up knowing and loving God and they were right by my side through it all.”
“My mom used to whisper prayers in my ear at the hospital every time we were getting hit with something,” she added. “She was making sure she was right there pushing God back into me so that I didn’t give up.”
Hunter said having Christian friends to be active listeners by her side during times of sorrow and grief was a huge help.
“I have a great group of friends,” Hunter said. “They would pray over me. It was never, ‘Oh, I know how you’re feeling,’ or ‘OK, it’s going to get better.’ Because at that moment, I didn’t want to hear those things.”
“You just want someone to kind of love on you and just listen,” she added.
Connor remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit for 31 days and remained in the hospital for three months. The crash caused Connor to suffer an injury where his head connects to his spine. Today, Connor is 17 but is disabled from his injuries.
“I lost my whole family that day because Connor’s not the same Connor he was, but God has blessed me tremendously through Connor, though,” Hunter explained.
“I would love for Connor to be up running around, and I know God could even reach down right now and completely 100% heal him, but … it’s hard to explain the connection that I have with Connor, that God has given me through his disability. ... It’s just unbelievable.”