BY GLORIA YODER
The door swung open, in walked my mother, kindly asking, “Gloria, did you hear that Daniel was in a logging accident? There are two squads sitting in your driveway.”
Children scattered in all directions. Howls erupted on all sides. “Is Daddy okay? What happened? Is he gonna die?”
There were no answers. In a mad scramble, everyone jerked on jackets and slipped into boots. My futile efforts of showing comfort proved unsuccessful. Children wait, we’re going to pray before we head to the woods. Standing in a circle, we had a brief prayer as we lifted our voices to the Lord.
We dashed outside, the children to stay by Grandpa on the edge of the woods while I dashed through the briers separating me from my beloved Daniel. I circled around the paramedics and rushed to his head where I spent several treasured moments at his side. Though he didn’t respond at that point, I knew he could tell I was there.
Not knowing if these would be my last moments, I didn’t give much attention to those around me until I caught the words, “If no one’s praying, they’d better start.”
My being groaned. I kept praying and assuring my most beloved Daniel. Soon they carried him to the pickup waiting by the edge of the woods. I walked along, supporting his head.
Next he was taken to the driveway to the waiting ambulance.
I sprinted to the house, meeting our six little children who were now back inside, overflowing with questions. I told them that I’m going to need to go with Daddy in the ambulance to see him off in Robinson where he’ll be life flighted to Evansville IN. Tears and more tears followed. “Mom, we want you with us!!”
My heart rent in two. I’m a mom, but I’m also a wife.
I tried assuring them they’ll be okay, and made quick plans of having them meet me on route 1 where we’ll all head to Evansville together to see Daddy.
It was a deal. Off we went. Strapped to a seat next to Daniel, those in charge told me to keep talking to him. His attempts were genuine, but extremely weak. I noticed the urgency as they desperately tried to get IVs started. No success. His large masculine veins were now running all too low. Finally they managed to get one in.
With sirens whistling, we made our way through Robinson. I kept talking, singing, praying, and assuring him,
By now he was responding more and feebly telling me of the excruciating pain in his abdomen and lower back.
Arriving next to the helicopter pad, I dreaded what was coming next.
There was no way of me going with Daniel.
Leaving the helicopter and telling him bye, I walked down the sidewalk a little ways, then turned and watched at the helicopter as the propellers picked up speed, then gently lifted from the ground, turned south, heading off with greatest prize I ever knew or loved. Feelings ran too deep for words, and even too deep for tears. I felt an arm slip around my back. It was my brother who had come to show his support. Silently we watched and prayed; I released Daniel to God.
Soon we were heading towards where my parents, a dear friend Judith, Owen, and the children were waiting for us.
“You know, it really seems like there are angels around that helicopter,” I thought as I watched it grow smaller by the second. Moments later my brother said, You know, there are angels around that helicopter.” I knew God was with him, and His ways always work.
Now as we launched into our 1 ½ hour drive to Evansville, I told the children, all I could about their beloved Daddy, yet speaking softly and generally enough to shield them from any unneeded trauma.
Finally we were there, “This is the big hospital where Daddy is,“ I explained to the children. Now I’ll go in to see Daddy while you all go get something for lunch.”
Inside, I slipped on my mask and stepped over to the desk and introduced myself. Her response troubled me more than I dared to admit. “You may be seated while you wait on the Chaplin.”
“Chaplin?” We inquired farther, telling them that I really would like to see him ASAP.
She kindly but firmly informed us that they are not able yo let anyone go back as his room is filled with people working on him, as it was ever since his arrival.
Going to a little quiet room off to the side, I dropped to my knees. “Surely not, surely not Lord.”
In the next report we were told that his heart had stopped along the way during his flight. CPR had kept him alive. Next in line was surgery to see where the excessive bleeding could be coming from.
An hour later he was in surgery. In the meanwhile my dearest parents and I talked, prayed, and as hard as it was, we even discussed life and death. We tried to eat. Then I thought of orange juice and how Hubby would buy orange juice for me just to show his love. Fresh tears rained down my cheeks. Would he ever have that opportunity again?
Minutes ticked into hours, finally we were told he’s out of surgery and in intensive care. Somewhat relieved, we waited for the doctor to come with his report. When he came in, he was kind, but to the point. His words still echo in my mind. By the time he finished I was following him to my husband’s side who had very slight chance of survival due to his blood loss, and the doctors not able to find where it was actually coming form.
As I spoke to Daniel, he opened his eyes a tiny bit. He could hear me! I did not know how long I would have this opportunity, but I did have this moment, so I showered all the love I had.
At one point I said, “If you want me to tell the children you love them, open your eyes.” At this, he distinctly opened his eyes. Joy flooded my being once more, how special this would be to their hurting hearts. Tears came to his eyes. How I ached for him. What would it be like to feel so helpless and see your precious family needing to let go of their most loved and adored daddy?
There was something else I just had to tell him, “Daniel, the guys at home checked out exactly what you were doing while logging, and they said it’s not your fault that you got hurt. You did all you could.” Here his pain-filled eyes opened as wide as he could, I knew he heard; still I repeated it once more, to ensure that he does not blame himself in any way. I assured him that God’s ways are always best, and that he will care for all of us.
Then there was the excruciating pain he was dealing with. My heart tore in two as I watched pain rack his being. He could only have a minimal amount of pain killers as it took his blood pressure dangerously far down. I tried to soothe him and tell him how good he was doing, I sang his songs, recited his favorite verses, and assured him of my love over and over. After an hour or so, I had to leave the room, for him to go for another exploratory surgery.
As we walked down the hallway, I had no sense of direction as my parents led the way to the quiet room. I collapsed into a couch. My physical strength was gone, my mental capacity was filled, and without a miracle, I would be a widow in a matter of hours.
There was no easy way out. Our children who had eaten lunch, spent time at a nearby park, and were now ready to see Mom. We needed to get a plan for the night ahead of us. God gave strength for the moment.
We met the children outside the hospital entrance.
“Mom, will Daddy be okay? Will Daddy die?” The questions all toppled over each other. I hugged them, as we cried, “I don’t know,” I answered honestly. The doctors say they do not know, but I think it’ll be alright, God will always take care of us.” We all huddled together on a park bench in front of the vast building. “Which room is daddy in, is it that one? When can we see him? I want my Daddy. I don’t want him to die...”
There was not a thing for me to do, but to just keep going, keep loving, and keep pointing them to the love of Jesus. After a bit we all went inside and watched fish in a giant aquarium. Plans were made to have the oldest five go back home and sleep at Grandpas with two of their aunts while one-year-old Joshua stays with me and my parents.
Moments after I walked into the quiet room, the doctor came in. Though I hardly spoke a word, the emotions that swept through my being at this point were real and they were intense. Once more he was to the point, telling us he is very sorry, but that Daniel is not going to make it.
Swiftly we made our way to his room. As we did so, a song echoed in my mind, “God has sent me here to tell you there is hope...” I knew that there is always hope if we surrender all to God, even though things are drastically not how we want them to be.
Stepping into his room, I made a mere dash for his side and told him I’m here with him. He heard! Once more he opened his eyes as I poured out all the love I ever had, for the one and only love of my life. As I spoke to him about our children and of my commitment to raise them just as he taught me to, tears once more welled up in his eyes. He knew. I knew. I told him that it’s okay for him to go to be with Jesus, that we will all be alright, God will take care of us (like Daniel used to say he would). There were more tears as I wiped them from his eyes. One-sided conversations, too precious to tell, followed as I wiped more of his tears.
Soon Daniel’s parents and brother John walked in the room. As his mother spoke to him, he turned his head and looked up at her. I was amazed; he had always loved and honored his parents, and here he was demonstrating it to the last moments.
I will never forget those last precious breaths, as he slipped on into eternity. Thanks to the doctors and nurses, who gave it all they had, including the 100 plus units of blood they gave him, they now gave us space as we mourned together and rejoiced over the wonder of Daniel being where he always dreamed of going where he will never have any heartaches or trial whatsoever.
There was pain, there was grief beyond description, then from deep within there was a sort of unexplainable peace, deeper than it all.
On the way home I sat next to Joshua on the van seat, I snuggled up with a blanket and prayed. I began realizing how many, many things led up to this, and how God had been preparing my heart. The words Daniel spoke on several occasions rang in my ears, “If I’d ever die, God would absolutely take care of you!”
I knew it must be true. For now, we’ll take only a moment at a time.