When I was 13, my life changed forever. This is my story. I originally posted this in 2012, but I’ve updated it and wanted to share it again. I hope, somehow, by sharing this, that it may encourage someone or help you in some way, if and when tragedy strikes your life.
A NORMAL DAY
The morning started out like any other Saturday morning. It was a beautiful spring day, April 23rd, 1994, and there was a school baseball game that day. Dad thought it would be great to take Naomi and I to the game.
So we hopped in the white Jeep Wrangler and drove to Bangor. By the middle of the game, we could tell who was going to be the winner. Some of my friends were there, and we were all getting bored.
Since several of my friends had not met my dog yet, we decided to drive out beyond our house and then take the back roads to our house so that they could meet our dog. Dad started up the Jeep, and Naomi sat on my lap in the front. In the backseat, Elisha, Jenn, Nate, and Chip all piled in, and somehow we all fit.
Once we got onto one of the back roads, Dad decided to let the guys try driving the Jeep. Nate got to go first, and Dad coached him as he drove a little ways. The Jeep was a stick shift, so it wasn’t the easiest thing to drive. Next it was Chip’s turn. Naomi and I stayed in the front, with Nate, Elisha, and Jenn in the back. Dad was standing on the back bumper holding onto the roll bars.
A MOMENT CHANGES EVERYTHINGChip drove for a while, but after a little bit, he began to lose control. We were swerving on the road, and a moment later, I heard Dad yell, “Chip!!” Then someone yelled, “Mr. Pier fell!” Chip stopped the Jeep in the middle of the road and we all jumped out, screaming.
That’s when I saw him. My dad was laying on the dirt road on his side, with blood coming out of his right ear.
Jenn ran over and saw that he was not breathing, and she started to do CPR. Two of us ran one way, while two of us ran the other way to find a way to call 9-1-1 (this was before the age of cell phones). Naomi stayed with Jenn as she tried to get him breathing.
I was running, running as fast as I could, heart pounding. I kept looking back, but trying not to think about it. Just keep running, I told myself. Nate was beside me, and we kept each other going.
I felt as though I was out of my body, looking down over the scene, like it was not really happening. I kept thinking, Wow, this will make a great episode of Rescue 911 someday.
Finally, after what seemed like hours (but was probably only a few minutes) we arrived at a house, knocked on the door, and asked to use their phone. We called 9-1-1.
The next 24 hours were a blur. Soon after we called 9-1-1, ambulances arrived, and other cars as well. Naomi and I got whisked away in one car, while my friends found other ways home.
We ended up at the hospital, and we met up with Mom there. She worked at the hospital, so she was already there when Dad arrived in the ambulance. I remember that I just kept thinking: He’s going to be okay. They will be able to fix him.
But he wasn’t okay.
He had severe brain damage from the fall and had hit his head on the part of the brain that tells your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe. He was only being kept alive by a machine.
Strangely enough, I always remember Daddy saying that if he ever were hooked up to machines, he would not want to be kept alive that way.
The next day, April 24th, 1994, my Mom and grandparents made the (gut-wrenching, I’m sure) decision to pull the plug. I never got to see Dad in the hospital. I suppose they may have felt it was too traumatizing for a 13 year old (on top of what I had already witnessed). My last image of Dad alive is the one of him laying on the ground, blood running from his ear.
To say my life changed is, I guess, an understatement. My life was hit with an unimaginable tragedy. My mom was now a single parent to an 9 and 13 year old, and my sister and I were now fatherless.
When tragedy strikes, the natural question is “Why?”
For me, the question was “Why, God, why would you take my Daddy from me?”
I’m still not 100% sure why this happened. However, God has given me some answers over the years. Tomorrow, I will share that in Part 2: When Faith Wins.
wow, esther… never heard this story. i feel the urge to say something and yet i don’t have any words at all. i know that our God turns sorrow into joy and from what i know from our limited interaction is that to me, you have always been a joy full person. looking forward to the rest of your story…
Thank you for your thoughts! God is good.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I can’t imagine how hard losing your dad has been, and I am praying for you today.
Thanks Shannon. It almost seems surreal now – I have spent more of my life without him than with him. But I still miss him and wish he could be here to see my daughter grow up. One day, I will see him again.
Esther, this has me in tears! How well I remember that day!
Aww, Gram, I didn’t mean to make you cry. But yes, I think it’s a day we all will never forget.
We remember that day so well Esther! It is very sad to even think about that time in our lives.
Thank you for sharing your heart. You are a courageous woman of God! Love you!
Thank you Aunt Brenda. You are too kind.
Esther, this is amazing. I am so proud of you for posting such a traumatic story. I so remember this day. Words cannot express how difficult it is to grow up without a Dad – but the one thing that is certain is the fact that Jesus is our Father. What a consolation it is to know that He has a plan, even in the most difficult of times. Thank you again for sharing your story. Love you and GREAT job!
Thank you Carolyn. And you are so right!
I did not realize this was what happened to your father. I grew up in Oakfield and your mom is the same age as my sister. Your Uncle Norman was a fixture in our household and we consider him one of the family. I just wanted to let you know I read your blog and found it incredibly moving.
Thank you. I am glad it touched you.
Oh my gosh, Esther. I remember you sharing that your father had died years ago, but I did not know how or that you were that young. My heart just broke for you. (((((((hug))))))) Thank you for sharing. It really touched me. Looking forward to reading the next part.
Thanks Chantelle. Most people haven’t heard the whole story, which is why I decided to go ahead and share it.
This reminds me of Sandy talking about remembering that everyone is dealing with something in their life. You had a really big something. That you have become the person you are is inspiring! And all part of the plan.
Thanks Elizabeth. You are an inspiring person too, and yes, it is so important to remember that!
I obviously had no idea; I literally gasped while reading this.
You are such a kind, loving person….. You inspire me!
Thank you Suz. You are sweet!
Thank you for sharing Esther- such a terrible accident and heartbreaking that you and your sister witnessed it. Hugs.
You’re welcome. Yes, when I think back about it, it really was horrible that we were there. Thankfully, we didn’t turn out TOO crazy ; )
Your story is so moving and while I can picture it in my head, I can’t fathom it happening. I am so sorry for the trauma that you all went through. Maybe you make the most of each day because you know how quickly our lives can change. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, losing someone does really help you to be more appreciative of each day that you have with those you love.
I never realized that you had no closure with him at the hospital. That must have been sooo hard. Will be praying for you tomorrow. This weekend’s retreat must have been especially emotional so close to the anniversary date. I love you.
I think I got emotional about it when Kristie told the story about Pete’s wife. It always makes me just squeeze my family a little tighter.
Esther, I will never forget being on staff at Zion and getting the phone call about your Dad. I was stunned, shocked and heartbroken for you, Naomi and your Mom. He was another brother in the family for me. The untold hours of him absolutely trouncing me in ping-pong until finally I started to get old enough to beat him every once in a while will forever be burned in my memory. And his influence on me? Well, to this day, Uncle Sterling and Uncle Norman still can’t figure out why I am a not a Patriots fan… I owe it all to your Dad.
I’ll be looking for part two tomorrow. Love you. Uncle.
Thanks for sharing your memory about Dad and the ping-pong. I definitely did NOT get that gene! Love you too!
18 yrs and at times it still seems like yesterday. That day will forever be burned into my mind. I think the first time I met your dad was at a junior high basketball game that you were cheering at (Ha Ha can you remember that 🙂 ) I remember feeling so proud that he was there to cheer us all on. Even though my time was so short with him I will always remember his free spirit, and love for life. I can never imagine what you and your family went through those following days, and have endured over the years. I remember when you came back to school and left class one day, and Mr. Preist stopped class, shook his head and said “I just couldn’t imagine, I just couldn’t imagine”. I am amazed at your strength, and the person who you are today. God does confusing yet amazing things in our lives sometimes. Thank you for sharing this story with others. I am anxious yet excited to read the next part.
Nate, thanks for the fun memories. I remember when Mr. Prest ripped up my test because I failed it a couple weeks after the accident. He had such a compassionate heart. Thank you for your thoughts. It is such a blessing to me to have you and Amanda at our church and small group now, after all these years.
It doesn’t seem possible that 18 yrs have gone by. I just met your Dad that spring… He was helping me coach the Jr High softball team. What a bleesing he was to me personally as he helped me coach! Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to part 2…Blessings to you and your family.
Thank you Kathy. I had forgotten about junior high softball!
Esther, I knew your father passed having to do with an accident with a Jeep – but I had no idea this was the story behind it. I was always under the impression it rolled on a highway, and you were 16 or 17. Amazing the way a story can change from person to person. I definitely just choked up—a lot. I am so sorry not only for your loss, but that you had to witness this. No one should ever have to go through that. I knew you were a strong woman, but I had no idea how strong. My heart is with you.
Thanks Heather for your thoughts.
My dearest Esther, You have a way with words and writing. Yes I remember 18 yrs ago as I got the phone call about my brother. After coming to my senses and calling your mother to get details about what had happened as I was the one who had to tell my parents. I had to pull myself together and be strong especially for Mom as this would be child # 2 that she had lost. I still remember flying to Maine-thinking this is a dream and I would wake up and he would be there. Your father loved you girls so much. He would be so PROUD of you both today as you both turned out to be beautiful ladies. I am so proud of you and Noemi. Love you Aunt Debi
You are a strong woman and I look up to you greatly! Thank you for your sweet words.
A very moving story, thank-you for sharing it, quite as I remember hearing it 18-years ago except, I thought you were a little older at the time too. I remember the last time I saw your father like it was yesterday, it was at my Mom & Dad’s home at FST Charleston. I believe Paul was working with Dad on something. We had a brief but very nice visit. I look forward to seeing him again someday.
Yes, it will be great to see him again, won’t it?
I remember… Praying for you.
Thank you Sara!
This is a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it with your readers.
I saw the link on the day but didn’t have a chance to read this. I remember this day so well. Carrie was in a pageant and we stayed an extra night when my parents went back to get ready for church. I’m so amazed by your journey and the light you shine so brightly when others would have allowed the pain to suffocate them. So proud of you!
Thank you, dear friend. It was definitely a rough journey for a while, but I am thankful for all the people who helped me through (along with God, obviously).
Esther – I am so sorry you lost your Daddy. And even sadder that you had to witness that. I can picture him, on the back of that jeep, letting the kids drive and have the time of their lives. He had so much vitality, and it lives on in the two of you. I will always miss him.
Thank you Michelle! He did live life to the fullest, that’s for sure!
Sad and raw. I can’t wait to read more. I’m sorry this happened Esther
Thank you Jen.
Thank you for sharing Esther.
Easther…love you my sister..praying this morning fkr you as I just read this story… you are one brave chick! I knkw you cannotnwaitntonsee your dad again…
Thank you Mary. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers.