Mistaken Identity is the story of the Cerak and Van Ryn families.
Warning: This is a completely off-topic post. I tend to post whatever is on my mind on Sundays, whether it has to do with finance and frugality or not. If you’re looking for a frugal post, don’t worry! I’ll be back with another one tomorrow!
A couple of years ago I came across a news story that I’m sure you’ve all heard by now. Some college students were in a horrible accident in Indiana. There was one survivor, a young lady by the name of Laura Van Ryn.
When Laura’s family first saw her after the accident, she had bandages all around her head, except for her swollen face. The nurses had told them to expect that Laura wouldn’t look like herself, and she didn’t.
For 6 weeks, Laura’s family sat by her side in the hospital, nursing her back to health. Along the way, they noticed subtle differences between the girl in the hospital bed and the girl they knew as Laura.
To make a long story short, it turned out that there was a case of mistaken identity. No tests had been run to conclusively identify Laura Van Ryn or one of the students thought to be dead, Whitney Cerak. The girl in the hospital bed was Whitney Cerak, and Laura Van Ryn had actually passed away the night of the accident.
On Friday night both the Van Ryn and Cerak families spoke out for the first time on Dateline. Both families are strong Christians, and their faith was evident in the interview. I admire them all, but I was especially blown away by Laura’s sister, Lisa Van Ryn.
While the Van Ryn family was nursing the girl they thought to be Laura back to health, Lisa kept a blog detailing her sister’s progress. The day she realized that the girl in the hospital was Whitney, Lisa wrote this in her blog:
We have some hard news to share with you today. Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak … it is a sorrow and a joy for us to learn of this turn of events. For us, we will mourn Laura’s going home and will greatly miss her compassionate heart and sweetness while knowing that she is safe and with her king forever. We rejoice with the Ceraks, that they will have more time on this earth with their daughter, sister, and loved one … thanks again for the support that you’ve been. Please continue your prayers. Our God is good and continues to be our help, our guide, our comfort. We love you sweets.
That’s the blog entry I read two years ago through tears. At the time, I figured Lisa must be Laura’s much older sister, given the maturity of the post. I don’t think there’s many people who could say that they rejoice with the Ceraks immediately after realizing their beloved sister had passed away.
I was wrong. Lisa Van Ryn is a young woman, and a woman of incredible faith and maturity. Much more mature than I was at that age. Whatever the Van Ryn’s did in raising their daughter, they did it right. I only hope my children grow up to have the same faith and maturity.
If you didn’t catch Dateline on Friday, I encourage you to read the transcript of the show. It’s long, but it’s worth it. You will be inspired by the way both of these families are such reflections of God’s love, even in the aftermath of an unthinkable tragedy.
My prayers are with both the Van Ryns and the Ceraks as they continue to face what must be at times an uncomfortable spotlight, all for the glory of God.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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