Absolutes are dangerous, so I must be careful, Dear Reader. What is the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen to you as a child? That’s certainly debatable, but I would offer that as a child, the death of your parent is about as bad as it gets.
And what is the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen to you as a parent? I would offer it is the death of your child. Your child being catastrophically injured doesn’t come close to their death. Yet, as a parent, being forced to daily watch your child struggle and be excluded by society is not what any parent desires. As a parent you go through many similar moments of grieving just like you would if your child had died, all while simultaneously being totally thankful your child is still alive.
And so this is the world in which he lives. Bookends of heartache. Most people don’t even have to deal with one of those horrific happenings.
He continues to deal with them both.
He doesn’t talk about his dad’s death very much. When he does his wife simply listens. The cancer came quickly and ravaged his dad’s body. As an eleven year old he has vivid memories of being called upon to help carry his father places as his dad became too frail to walk. The death was neither unexpected nor shocking. In fact, he talks about what a relief it was to know his dad was finally no longer in pain.
Life was a bit bumpy after that. He navigated through some difficult situations. It would have been easy for him to turn bitter, rebellious, and walk away from the Lord.
He did none of those.
He worked hard in college. He chose his bride. No man worked harder to provide for his young bride than he did. The two of them dreamed, worked, laughed, adjusted, and enjoyed one another. They lost their first baby. And then the two became three with number four on the way.
His job moved to Mexico. It was quite a blow. He rarely, rarely cries, but he cried that day. He worked any and every odd job he could find to earn money. He told his wife he really didn’t need to eat lunch, as he wasn’t really hungry, but she was never fooled. He was just saving food for her and the growing child insider her, as well as his precious little daughter.
Even those closest to him would have been appalled had they known how little money was in his savings account when he finally found a job seven months later. The truth is, there was just one more house payment left in the bank.
He awoke at 3:30 every morning. He needed to work overtime and he didn’t want to take any time away from his wife and two young children at nights so he worked early, early every morning. When he came home it was always a celebration. His energetic-on-the-go little girl ran and jumped everywhere when daddy came home. His calmer child, his infant son, smiled and smiled. He couldn’t have been a better husband and father as he played with his children.
When the children grew older he still was invested. Where you saw one of them, you saw all four. He always attended their conferences, performances, races, and even coached his son’s soccer team. He had to have been exhausted but he never showed it. He was his usual pillar of strength, enjoying life, and making it as good as possible for those around him.
He endured a second job loss. He tried to remain positive, but you could see it wear on him. He found work again all while having moved his family. He told his wife it was for the best and he poured his heart and soul into making his deceased grandpa and dad proud of his new property. It was his way of singing a song of thanks and love to them.
He continued to put his wife and children above his career and grew quite handy with his camera. He loved to watch his children run and took many photos while encouraging them and their teammates in his quiet faithful way.
And then he tried to swerve.
He tried to swerve and miss the vehicle which pulled horizontally into the path of his family’s van in West Virginia. . .but there was no way to miss it. The other driver actually slowed down in front of him almost coming to a stop. The impact of that high speed crash is not something he will ever be able to forget.
He was the first to realize his daughter was paralyzed. His wife was pinned in the van in immense pain and even though she was neither screaming nor crying, he knew how badly she was hurt. He had to make a decision as to whether he would stay with his wife or accompany his children to the hospital. He and his wife knew one another well enough that there wasn’t any discussion.
He would go with the children.
He later sat in his wife’s hospital room and sobbed. He sobbed and sobbed. Long, deep, anguished cries racked his long, lanky body. He operated with almost no sleep, all the time trying to make wise, clear-headed decisions as to what would be best for his family, while being contacted and making close to a hundred daily calls or texts with everyone under the sun. He literally wore a path between his wife’s room in the step-down unit and his daughter’s room in ICU. In what was the most difficult time of his life, when he needed others more than ever, he was praised by many for his strength, yet criticized by a few for how he handled some details. He plodded on in faith.
Even if he’d gone through just one of these experiences, it would be more than many men go through in a lifetime but he’s gone through them all: the illness and death of his father, multiple job losses, the loss of a baby, a horrible wreck, a seriously injured wife, and a catastrophic injury to his beautiful, athletic daughter which has altered every decision and every moment of every day for him and his family.
And he is still not bitter, nor is he rebellious, nor has he walked away from the Lord. He continues to handle life with class, dignity, and grace through situation after situation where many men would have crumbled.
There may be other men who can bench press more, but there are none who are stronger.
There may be other men who would score higher on a written examination, but there are none who are wiser.
There may be other men who have much more money, but there are none who provide for their family better.
In his calm quiet way, full of goodness and love, he is the absolute best husband and father.
And I have no doubt, one day, my husband will stand before God and hear Him say, “Well done, Chad. Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing. Thank you to those of you who have chosen to subscribe to the blog and follow it for free.