Remembering to Choose

I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

I needed to make a descision between God, and insanity and death.

It’s surprising how appealing insanity and death can be.

Because my daughter was dying.

Her name was Olivia. She was just 2 1/2, and had gone into fibral siezures while taking a nap just two days before and had never come out of it. Still to this day, I don’t know what happened except that maybe she had lyme disease from a tick bite that had gone dormant. Lyme disease can do that. Anyways, at the time, the doctors and nurses couldn’t tell us anything, except that they were fighting for her. But it wasn’t doing any good.

So I stood there, in the hall of the hospital. It was off of a breezeway between two wings. I still smoked back then.

And I remember I just wanted to die.

But instead I got to see everything else. How for the nine years before that, I had got to see my life unfold spiritually in a way I could never have ever imagined. The voice of a friend reminded me how all of those nine years was allowing me to do this. How I was still a husband. How I was still a father.

How nothing had changed.

And I began to see God in everything. And I got to help my daughter die. And I got to be a husband, a father, a son, a friend to the people around me. I got to find out that people on four continents were praying for my family. I got to thank the 400 people who had known her, been touched by her and came to her funeral.  I got to let them love me after when I couldn’t love myself.

Because I got to see it wasn’t about me.

I got to know that right before my daugher had gone down for her nap, she had grabbed a camera and gave it to her mother and said, “Momma, take a picture of me.”

Olivia 1

 And I know without a doubt in my mind that my daughter is ok.

She would have been 13 years old this past January.

And for a moment, on that day, I lamented the fact that I would’t get to guard the door for her, from all the boys who would be calling after her, like the other dads did.

But then I remembered I get to raise three little gentlemen instead. My three sons.

And they all get to know their sister.

And we’re ok.


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25 Responses to Remembering to Choose

  1. Paula Lietz says:

    Much love to you

  2. Administrator says:

    Paula, Thank you.

  3. AJ Tierney says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  4. Kelley says:

    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  5. Elise R. says:

    So much love, so much loss, you are in my prayers today.

  6. Chantell Tiatrakul says:

    As if the pleasure of just knowing you and hearing you read your book was not enough, here I am knowing a more private you and I am honored to call you friend and collegue.

  7. Administrator says:

    Thank you, AJ.

  8. Administrator says:

    Thank you, Chantell. Glad to know you too.

  9. Administrator says:

    Thank you, Elise.

  10. Administrator says:

    Thank you for your kindness, Kelley.

  11. Rachel H. says:

    It takes great strength and wisdom to endure Life’s struggles – yet come out, despite a heavy heart, with so much love and resolve to venture onward.
    You have experienced something no father should ever have to go through, Tom – something that would have crumpled others from within. But you lit a candle in the darkness. Not only that: you became that candle for so many others; you loved when bitterness could have overtaken. And, for that, I thank you.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Tom. Thank you for being the wonderful father that you are.

    You, your sons, Olivia: all are in my thoughts.

  12. Christine says:

    Beautiful thoughts about a beautiful little girl.

  13. Pat Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Tom. God bless you and your three little gentlemen.

  14. Rose Haynes says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Tom. I remember that day, that week, and the weeks after. I remember praying for you and your family and praying with you. I remember watching you grow as you put you trust in God and allowed him to guide you through those awful days and weeks. I remember thinking you were going to be OK as you accepted God’s will in your life. Olivia may not be here in body but she is always with you, always a part of you, always a part of everything you do. You are raising 3 very fine gentlemen and I am proud of you. Love you, Friend.

  15. touching, poignant, devastating, real…my heart goes out to you. so hard. You had insight you needed at the bleakest of times and that is the most we can hope for, I think.

  16. Your indescribable courage is something that so many of us need to hold dear. We all have a choice, but so many of us forget that. I cannot even begin to fathom the loss of a child, much less the strength to not only carry on, but to also hold one’s head high and count one’s blessings. Thank you, Tom, for sharing this very personal story.

  17. Nancy Sturm says:

    Tom, I’m so glad you decided to share this story. You have shared it beautifully; it honors your sweet little girl. I pray others will find comfort in your story.
    I enjoyed meeting you Saturday night. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Anne Wick says:

    Tom, thank you for sharing such a powerful, intimate story. I am in awe of your courage and your faith. Your friend, Anne (Brashear) Wick

  19. Tracy Lucas says:

    What a beautiful smile, and a wonderful father, your little girl had and has.
    She’s out there still, and you’ll see her again.
    Thank you for writing this.

  20. Michael Hardwick says:

    I remember sitting with you outside the hospital for a while. So many friends stayed for days as we all shared your pain. We all miss her. God holds on to her now. She plays in the Garden with all the little children with a bliss never to be known on our earthly plain. I believe someday you will be with her again. She will take through the Garden and introduce you to her friends. And you and your child will experience joy together. Someday.

  21. Jan Morrill says:

    What a precious little girl. And what a wonderful dad you were to Olivia and and are to your three sons.

  22. Cathy Collar says:

    I am so touched by your story. I too had to endure the loss of a child. You found, like I did, that the only way to survive such a loss was to look at what we had been given and know that our child was receiving a very special reward for being awesome, Heaven. She looks like she was a beautiful little girl with a bubbly personality. A piece of our hearts are in heaven. Our children are not gone, they are just away and we will get to see them again. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories with us. (((HUGS)) to you and your family.

  23. Administrator says:

    Thank you everyone, for your thoughtfulness.

  24. This post, as have all the ones that follow, moved me to tears. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your love and loss so honestly. It speaks volumes to your character and the man your children have as a role model.

  25. Administrator says:

    Thank you so much, Brandi.

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