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The One Spared

That 75-pound playground equipment crashed on my head and collapsed my young frame in a matter of seconds. My voice could utter no sound, so my sister screamed an alarm until help came. My after-school fun suddenly turned into life-threatening trauma as a fifth grader. It was no one’s fault.

By God’s grace I miraculously survived. I share with you some reflections on what it meant to me to receive special care. Three family members, a neighbor, and a doctor stepped into my crisis and made a life-giving difference. I honor my sister and my dad in releasing this story, since April is their birthday month. I love and celebrate you two, Juli Henderson and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert C. Gaskill. Also, I honor my mom, Erotida “Lillian” Gaskill, with much gratitude for selflessly nurturing my recovery.

Being the youngest of four siblings in a close family, I am used to being watched well. But, this experience went beyond a family responsibility. It impacted my value as a person. And I desperately needed God’s intervention, and people's unique giftings to help me live.

My sister saved my life with her quick compassionate action bringing rescue. She stayed with me, and supernaturally gained strength to lift the heavy Maypole lid off of my head. Our loving sister bond tightened permanently that day. From my hindsight this singular act put her on track to become a champion for others who cannot fight for themselves. Destiny later proved it included fighting for the life of her own youngest son, Robert.

According to my sister, my next-door neighbor heard her cries first. He appeared on the scene and scooped me up in his arms. He carried me up our backyard hill where my parents rushed to meet him. The neighbor transferred me into my dad’s arms. Though I don’t know his name, I am thankful for his swift response.

Dad cradled my limp body in his arms in the car. My head injury soaked his white army shirt deep crimson, as he relinquished his immaculate reputation. Being held by my dad permeates my memory. I felt safe.

In the emergency room I reached my hands towards my head to resist the doctor’s ministrations. Dad secured my hands by my sides. His calm character in the midst of turmoil brought inward comfort to me as I lay on that bed in total physical discomfort. Love for my dad deepened. I will never know the agony he bore witnessing me suffer.

Dad watched the skillful doctor assess, shave, clean and suture my scalp, as I cried out in excruciating pain. I am thankful God chose this particular physician to be on duty to treat me. He is anonymously highlighted in my life history.

With flashers on, Mom cautiously sped to the military clinic. As dad rushed inside, my prayer warrior mom pleaded with God to spare my life. She faltered when God asked her, “Do you love Me more than this child?” Tearfully she wrestled with God’s question. Approaching the emergency room door, Mom released her reply. “Yes. I love You more than this child.”

Mom waited in the hallway with no guarantee I would live or die. But, she chose to trust God no matter what. Later, when Mom told me this experience of hers, she said that was the hardest decision she has had to make.

Like Abraham with his son Isaac, Mom’s surrender of me to God seemingly resulted in my life being spared. I know many stories do not end this well. I endured only temporary pain with no brain damage, a row of stitches with a lasting scar, and weeks of wearing a head bandage.

Mom attentively cared for me as I healed. She also took me to follow-up doctor appointments. The hair near my head wound began to grow back like a man’s unbecoming facial stumble. I was thrilled to be out of school for awhile, although class assignments were sent home for me to do, so I wouldn’t get behind.

One day while staying home from school recovering, Mom took me with her to a ladies’ fashion show, instead of leaving me at home alone. Even though I still wore a head bandage and felt ugly, Mom showed that she loved me and was not ashamed of how I looked. Oh, how I treasured that unconditional love and acceptance!

During my recovery neighbors stopped by the house to check on me. Some brought cards, candy, or a gift. I didn’t understand it. For the first time in my life I realized that other people besides my family cared about me, Cheryl. We had moved frequently, and I never connected well relationally or felt known as an individual. Now, I felt like a valued part of my neighborhood.

This traumatic event changed my life. It revealed to me a truth that I am not only noticed, but valued and loved by others, foremost by God. Not everyone discovers their worth through a crisis. That just happened to be my path. I do not wish that method for you. I hope you learn that you are valued and loved early in your life, or even today. And that you will always need some good people in your life contending for you.

Thankfully, God’s breath of life still flows through me. I remain extremely grateful for the neighbor, family heroes, and doctor who fought for me to live. I am committed to fulfill my destiny, and help contribute to others living theirs.

Listening Library: Breathe On Me, Breath Of God (Steve Green)

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b, NKJV)

“The Lord is your keeper.” (Psalm 121:5 NSV)

Breathe On Me, Breath Of God

Breathe on me

Breath of God

Fill me with life anew

That I may love what Thou dost love

And do what Thou wouldst do

Breath on me

Breath of God

Until my heart is pure

Until my will is one with Thine

To do and to endure.

Breathe on me

Breathe on me

So that I will never die

Breathe on me

Breathe on me

Grant me everlasting life

Everlasting life

Breathe on me

Breath of God

Till I am wholly Thine

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with Thy fire divine

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In Our Arms

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