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.