A friend of some friends on FB (I thought it was a nice read)
You just never know when your time is up, or if you will have a 2nd chance.
The Airplane in question
Today is special to me. At 1:05 PM it will be exactly 32 years since my airplane accident, the day I should have died.
When the airplane hit the ground and exploded, I was trapped inside. As I kicked and fought to get out, I remember taking what I thought was my last breath. Flames scorched my throat while hot air and smoke filled my lungs.
As I prepared to die, everything I thought was so important, career, home, possessions, etc., instantaneously became worthless, and the things I took for granted, family, wife, my son, became instantly and overwhelmingly important. In fact, in whatever amount of nanoseconds it took, my mind focused intently on my son, who was 9-months old at the time.
I put my head in my arm while engulfed in flames and prayed… “Not yet God, please don’t let me burn to death.” The thought of my son losing his father seemed more traumatic to me than what I was physically experiencing at the moment.
The next thing I knew I was out of the airplane, on my hands and knees, trying to crawl away from the airplane. The second fuel tank blew and I felt the searing heat hit my back.
There’s obviously much more to the story, but that’s for another time. Today, my reason for posting is to say thank you to my family, friends, doctors, nurses, therapists… even a few strangers that stood with me as I fought for my life and continued to do so through the years of surgeries and physical therapy.
Thank you to my parents, Jerry and Doreen, for their unwavering love, support, commitment, and prayers, during such a difficult time. Nobody knows the level of sacrifice they made on my behalf.
Thank you to both of my brothers Timm and Pete, who dropped everything they were doing, to be by my side and to support me in so many practical ways. They rose so much higher than they had to, providing a level of sacrifice and care, second to none.
Thank you to my ex-wife, Lori, who also made huge sacrifices, held my hand both physically and metaphorically, during the toughest time in my life and in our relationship.
Thank you to my second ex-wife, Danika, who showed me love, compassion, support, and dedication, when I was at my lowest and needed it the most.
Thank you to my Grandparents, Otis and Loene, who were such an integral part of this puzzle and who did so many things for me. My grandma, bless her heart, even gave me her SSI check after I’d exhausted my financial resources.
Thank you to so many of my extended family who did so much for me. You fed me, dressed me, tied my shoes, drove me places, and bought me treats (thanks again for the crab, Joy, and Dale!). I owe you all so much.
I don’t know how people without family get through this kind of stuff. Seriously, I don’t think I would have made it without my family.
Thank you to so many of my friends who visited me in the hospital, prayed continuously for me, showed me grace that I most assuredly did not deserve, and took care of things for me while I was laid up. My slipping memory combined with the large number of people who supported me, won’t allow me to list you all, and I know any list I create will be sorely incomplete. You know who you are and what you did to support and help me.
Thank you to the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other staff of the Oregon Burn Center, who collectively not only saved my life but who also worked tirelessly to give me such a high quality of life after such a devastating trauma. Dr. Philip Parshley, Helen Christians, Patti Brockman, and so many more. I can only hope I’m worthy of the 32 extra years of life you worked so hard to give me.
And finally, I would like to thank God for hearing my prayer and granting me life instead of death. For allowing the chance to be a father, a grandfather, and to experience everything I would have missed in this life. I know I’m not worthy and that I’ve failed miserably at so many things in this messy life of mine. I thank you as much as I know how to for the work your son Jesus did on the cross, so the relationships I’ve experienced here and now will have the chance to continue for eternity.
When I was young, Joe Cocker, sang a song at Woodstalk called “With A Little Help From My Friends”. If I could sing, I would sing it to all of you, and follow it with “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant.
I usually don’t eat breakfast or lunch and drink my coffee black. Today I’m having breakfast and a latte at my favorite little coffee house in Silverton, to celebrate, a treat I no longer take for granted. Tonight I hope to spend time with my niece. It’s her birthday today. She was born on the day I almost died.