Acteson family
Adventures in France,  Inspiration,  Mum Life

The worst moment in my life that changed me for the better

One of my last blog entries was on September 20th, when I shared the exciting news with you that we’d decided to stay on in France and extend our 2 year stay, for an indefinite time. I felt elated to have shared this news we’d been discussing for a long time, and felt a connection to so many who came back to me with words of encouragement and inspiration.

In a morning flurry 2 days after, after a beautiful French wedding the day before, Rob and the boys set off to a friends barbeque, leaving me to get the house ready for the imminent arrival of my parents that night. As I stirred bolognese sauce on the stove and dragged the vacuum out to the living room, my phone rang and changed our life forever.

Spencer cried down the phone, explaining that Daddy had been in a head-on collision with another car, 10 minutes from our home. He was with Charlie who was bleeding and he and Oliver….I ran. I ran to our neighbour, turned off the stove, put on the first pair of shoes I saw, grabbed my bag and ran. My heart stopped, for what felt like 10 minutes until I saw my babies, on the side of the road. I ran again, scooped them up and cried. I had 2 of them in my arms, but 2 were missing…I ran to the car where Rob was sitting, holding Charlie’s head with his tshirt he’d taken off. His head was cut badly, his eyes were dilated, the fear on his face will never leave me.

Somehow, everybody was alive and that angel, higher power or god, that looked down on us that day, knew we had more to do together. We weren’t ready to be ripped apart and we were given the biggest second chance of our lives.

You can never imagine receiving that call, racing to the scene of an accident, being airlifted in a helicopter, watching your boys drive off in ambulances, watching your husband weep in grief and fear. You can never imagine how it feels to sit by your sons bedside in intensive care, to hold his hand while he’s stiched up, to wait for cat scan results, to hug your son to sleep for weeks as he relives the nightmare of the accident. You can’t imagine the stress of the paperwork in another language, the phone calls from insurance companies, police, car rental companies.

You also can’t imagine how lucky I felt, how blessed and grateful I was to be able to hold each one of my boys and Rob at night. You can’t imagine how supported we felt from our little community when the outpouring of love, messages, meals and assistance came pouring in. It really is hard to imagine all of it, but I tell you this because I hope you never have to go through this nightmare yourself to start to feel the gratitude that now fills my heart.

We have been living our dream, slowing life and savouring the moments more. We’ve made space for more living, making intentional decisions that affect the outcome of our lives and our kids lives. Despite this, our gratitude and appreciation for every single thing we are doing, we have, we feel, didn’t feel as strong until it was almost ripped away from us.

The messages we received from friends, loved ones and strangers was incredible. I was lifted from the hard bed in the hospital, with the knowledge that around the world people were praying for us. I read them all, I cried more and I was filled with the kind words everyone wrote. It wasn’t just messages of ‘get better’ or ‘I’m sorry’, they were messages from the heart that told us what an inspiration we were to others. That they had been following our journey and were inspired to make changes in their own lives, because of us. I had private messages of encouragement and it was then that it dawned on me, that our journey to France and the uprooting of our life in Melbourne, could inspire others to think differently about their lives. To not settle, to make changes, to push forward when it feels really really hard. I always loved sharing our adventures with you but underestimated the power of what we were doing, until I was told ‘you are an inspiration’.

So after a grey period of 2 months while I’ve been nurturing my 4 boys back to health, I woke one morning with the desire to write again. I wanted to share again. I wanted to inspire through the stories I have to tell. My zest to get back into my happy place in the kitchen is coming back, to sit and write stories, plan out my book, help other businesses in my work, plan trips and adventures. As winter approaches here and I put on my wool jumpers and flannel pj’s, ready for hibernation, I look forward to a season of creating while we rest & renew.

Now, I make sure my boys don’t leave, rushed out the door without a kiss, like they did that morning. I make sure that when they need to stay home from school that they do. I hold them extra tight, fall asleep with them, make room for them in my bed when they wake at night. The worst moment of my life has changed me for the better and I hope that through sharing our stories, I inspire you too, to feel gratitude for what you have today.


  • Stephanie Burton

    Suzanne, this truly was a touching and inspiring story you shared! So props to you for accomplishing that goal!!! I hate to hear that happened to you/your family, BUT… i am so relieved to know how it turned out!

    It seems like you have always had a great appreciation of the more important things in life, compared to most people… but, clearly, you have an even greater one NOW!

    Thank you for sharing and for reminding us of what to be mindful of… and how to take advantage of sharing the most special moments with our loved ones!

    Best wishes for a safe, relaxing & healthy winter, as well as continued recovery AND more fun adventures in your future!


  • Sarah

    Such a raw and honest read of a dreadful situation. Your resilience and tenacity to keep going and doing what you all love is amazing. My best wishes to you Rob and those gorgeous boys xx

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