Today, please welcome our guest author, Eva Piper. Eva shares her unique perspective as a wife, walking with her husband Don, through very dark, challenging and difficult days, when an accident occurred that would change their lives forever He shares his story in 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death. Eva has written her side of that amazing story in A Walk Through the Dark, which has just been released.
“Do you take this woman/ man to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband? For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health ‘til death do you part?”
Many young couples have stood in marriage ceremonies across the world and romantically answered “I do.” Fifteen years before Don’s accident we stood at the front of Barksdale Baptist Church with family and friends looking on as we uttered those words “I do”. I must admit that as a young bride I had no idea how my promise would be tested in the years to come. No bride or groom wants to think anything troublesome will come their way. Standing there in front of the altar I was filled with marriage giddiness. I was marrying the most handsome, intelligent, strong Christian man I had ever met. It was a girl’s dream come true.
Shortly after our fifteenth wedding anniversary, I was standing beside a hospital bed looking at a man I could scarcely recognize. His physical appearance had changed after numerous surgeries to piece him back together after being hit head-on by an 18 wheeler which left him encased in metal frames on his left leg and arm in an attempt to repair broken and lost bone. Those were changes I could pass over and still see the man I loved. No, it wasn’t his physical change that disturbed me, it was the change in his personality that was difficult to understand and accept. For weeks following Don’s accident he plunged into a deep depression, one where he wouldn’t speak to me, where the only response I could get was a grunt or single syllable monotone answers. There was no joy, no willingness to get better, no appreciation, nothing. It was like talking to a zombie. As his wife I couldn’t understand why he was not rejoicing in the fact he had survived a horrific wreck followed by medical complications. It didn’t seem like he cared about anything or anyone.
One evening about mid-February I arrived at St. Luke’s Hospital after teaching school. I had a book bag on my arm filled with papers to grade, lesson plans to write, and thank-you notes to send. I stood outside his room for a moment, pasted on my Suzy Sunshine smile, and walked in. As usual I got no response when I entered. The rest of the evening I spent working through the items in my bag and finished before visiting hours were over. Though I typically stayed until the very last minute that evening I decided to head home early. I was exhausted on all levels…physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. The thought of getting home early, taking a long, hot shower, and then heading to bed sounded like a wonderful escape. I began to gather my things and head toward the door. As I reached for the handle I turned and said, “Guess I’ll head home. See you tomorrow. Love you.” His grunt of response hit me hard. I turned, dropped my book bag, marched over to the foot of his bed and let him have it.
“Why are you acting like this? Aren’t you glad to be alive and here with our kids, with me? Don’t you love me anymore? You are so mean, mean to me , mean to our children, mean to anyone who comes to see you. What’s wrong with you?”
I couldn’t believe I was saying those things but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. All my frustrations came to a boiling point in the moment between the door and the foot of his bed. Seeing my bag on the floor I reached for it ready to storm out the door, that’s when I noticed Don’s face in the large, wall mirror next to his bed. Tears were streaming down his face and his chest was heaving in heavy sobs. Instantly I was at his side, trying my best to put my arms around him, in and through all the metal, saying over and over “It’s Ok, things will be alright, I’m here.We’ll make it through this. Don’t worry. ”
Often I’d put my arms around our children to soothe hurts and pain, now I was doing that for my husband. God took that opportunity to teach me a great lesson.
“God loves us even in all our ugliness. I needed to see Don through God’s eyes.” I stood there holding Don and realized for the first time how hard this was for him. How much pain he was going through and how that had to affect his state of mind. I knew then that we were living through a ‘worse’ time but that God had used it to bond us more tightly together.
It is a blessing I am forever thankful for.
Eva Piper is a speaker and author with a unique insight into the trials of heartache and the triumph of overcoming. The wife of best-selling author Don Piper, Eva was the glue that held her broken husband and her family together. Don’s story, recounted in the New York Times bestseller, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death, is Eva’s story too. A teacher of 34 years, she and Don now live in Pasadena, Texas. Visit http://evapiper.com/ to reserve your copy of A Walk Through the Dark today, or order at Amazon!