For Doug

Note: The following was written to request a prayer quilt from Faith Baptist Church for my friend Doug. The request was granted, and the church members prayed for Doug and his family as they tied knots in the strings. I shared the letter with a friend, who shared it with her mom, who then knitted an afghan for Doug (shown in the picture below). Doug is improving daily, but he still needs your thoughts and prayers. If you’re not the praying type, maybe you’ll do something special in your own way in honor of Doug.

Whenever a tragedy strikes a friend, we often tend to talk in terms of clichés, those things you hear time and again on how great a person is and how life wouldn’t be the same without them. Maybe it’s because we fail to adequately express ourselves when someone we love is hurting. And maybe, not always, of course, but maybe we’re just lucky enough to surround ourselves with some people who truly are blessings in our life, people who bring joy to those they encounter.

Doug Wade is one of those types.

I’ve known Doug since the mid-1990s, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without him (not that he knows that, of course; too often we fail to tell our friends what they mean to us until circumstances force us to issue our confessions of love). I quit college after my sophomore year, with no intentions of ever returning. Before long, however, I had a change of heart, and once I got back on campus, I met Doug, and we immediately hit it off.

Bonding over shared classes, but mostly over Conan O’ Brien jokes and episodes of The Simpsons, we saw each other daily at the University of Kentucky, right up until the day we graduated together. Some friends drifted away, never to be seen again, but Doug and I remained in each other’s lives, thanks mostly to e-mail and, later, instant messaging.

In my first stint at college, I floated alone, but Doug, without knowing, made sure that wasn’t the case on my second attempt. By providing that friendship, that true sense of brotherhood, I learned to love going to class, which led to a job, which led to Georgetown, which led to this church, which led to today.

Today, though, it’s Doug who needs the help. In mid-February, some sort of infection attacked his brain, causing him to have massive seizures and sending him into a coma. Doctors still don’t know the cause, with the medical team now focusing more on his rehabilitation. Yes, Doug has regained his consciousness, but it’s a long, arduous journey back to full health, as he’s learning, again, some of the basics: from talking and communicating to dressing himself and walking.

doug
Doug and his family

For Doug, though, he’s not alone. The unknowing commitments he made to friends long ago are paying off today, as his hospital room at Cardinal Hill is not only filled with the cards, balloons and other mementos of loved ones from far away but also with the actual human presence of friends and family who stay with him almost around the clock.

None are more involved as his wife, Traci, who is delicately balancing being with Doug and continuing to raise their daughter, Hailey, who is not yet 2. This time is agonizingly difficult for Traci, yet she has been a true testament of faith through all this. Rather than question “Why him, Lord? Why me? Why us?” Traci has continued her complete and total devotion to God, knowing that there is a reason for this injury, this as-yet-unexplainable mess that’s fallen on her young family.

So today I ask for this quilt, for Doug, for Traci and for Hailey. I ask that you consider these words from Traci:

“We continue to pray for Doug’s recovery and the healing of his mind. He has so much love to give, not just Hailey and me, but everyone, that I pray his voice is back soon. It’s a sweet melody in my mind right now, but I have faith it will soon be resounding in my ears as well. I also pray for faith that God will show me the light along our path over the next few weeks. Doug’s family and I aren’t sure he is ready to come home yet, so please pray that he will continue to make awesome progress so that we are reassured that we (mostly I) can take care of his physical, emotional and therapy needs. Or that Cardinal Hill will be able to help him for a few weeks longer. Sometimes it is scary to make transitions in life, and I know from the many I’ve made in life already that change is ALWAYS difficult at first, but things do get easier with time. And with prayer God takes those burdens from our shoulders and carries them over the mountains and through the valleys!”

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