He was the size of an oak tree from my wee little perspective. A booming laugh, strawberry blonde hair and a kindly smile floated down in my direction and left a shadowy image that I can still vaguely make out today.
Yes, there once was a man who rescued me. He was there to douse the flames that were shooting up around me, scooping me up and jumping into the car with me as my father drove us to the nearest hospital. I remember cold wash cloths on my arms as I squirmed, flailed, threw my body every which way attempting to escape the anguish and pain.
He held those wash cloths firm on my arms as he held me close to his chest. Then he and my dad waited at the hospital, sitting, standing, praying.
And now he's gone. He passed away in the middle of the night last night and I never once thanked him.
His family had moved away later when I was still young. Our families stayed in contact for several years, but as we are all so apt to do, time started slipping away. Months turned into years and our lives continued on and contact was lost. And then, oh the joys of Facebook!
Doug had suffered through a massive brain tumor which hit unexpectedly and traumatically one morning. They didn't think he'd live. That was twenty years ago. He was permanently disabled because of it, but he continued to use his voice to praise his Lord. Even making the trip back here to Arizona to sing at different churches and share his testimony.
And now he's gone.
He's singing the songs that his heart has been yearning to sing, especially the last few years when his voice had been taken away from him.
While the rest of us are mourning and rejoicing both at the same time, for him there's no bittersweet mixture. It's pure, unadulterated joy like we will all experience one fine day.
Even though I never said it here on Earth, I would like to say it now and then repeat it in eternity:
Thank you, Doug. Thank you for rescuing me, for touching others' lives through word and song, and for loving others well.