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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Randal McCloy

You find out what people are made of when they are on the brink of death. They think about or do the thing that matters the most to them. Why spend time doing anything else?

Randal McCloy, the only miner out of thirteen miners who survived when the Sago Mine in Tallmansville (W.V.) collapsed in January, was certain that he was going to die. Carbon monoxide filled the air at much higher levels than is safe for breathing. The miners began to write farewell letters to their families. One miner lasted 10 hours before he died from inhaling the poisonous air. For some reason, McCloy was still breathing 30 hours after the disaster.

"Well, we all knew there was nothing you could do," McCloy is quoted as saying in an interview with Matt Lauer. "We all knew that. We knew we was going to end up taking the bullet on that one."

McCloy decided that the time had come to write his own farewell letter to his wife Anna and their children, Randal Jr. and Isabel. Here's what he said: "Anna, I love you so much. To my son, trust in the Lord. To my daughter, stay sweet. Don't grieve long. I want you to be happy in life." He signed the letter, "Daddy."

How could he have said any more? He expressed his love for his family. He told them to trust in the Lord. And he didn't want this to change his family—he wanted his daughter to stay sweet and he didn't want them to grieve long. He didn't gloss over the fact that his family would grieve his death. He allowed them that. But he was concerned that his death might keep them from eventual happiness and he didn't want that to happen. That's what love looks like.

Somehow, rescue workers got to him and he was still alive. The neurosurgeon who has worked with him since his rescue said this about his condition upon arrival: "He was in terrible shape when he got here: in shock, collapsed left lung, in kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure.  Really nothing working right and in a deep coma."

He has brain damage, he has vision problems, he's weak, he needs help to walk, and he's going to be in therapy for a long time. But, last week, he was released from the hospital and he got to go home to the family that he obviously loves. How cool is that?


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