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Memoirs of Composer Chance Thomas

Chapter 14 - Sneak Peek Excerpt


9/11 gave me the opportunity to serve our community in a very public way. But being a bishop also opened a tender doorway into the private lives of many individuals and families. Under the radar, I shared in some of the most joyful and heart-rending experiences human beings can pass through. I will touch on a few in this section, with names changed to preserve privacy and protect confidentiality. 

I was driving to a leadership meeting when I learned that Rachel Cassidy had suffered serious complications during labor earlier in the day. She had been rushed to the hospital where doctors were working to save her life and the life of her unborn daughter. Her husband Johnny had just arrived at the hospital and was worried sick. They needed their bishop.

I drove to the hospital immediately and joined Johnny while we waited. He was visibly shaken, and asked me to pray for him and give him a blessing. I desperately wanted to convey that his wife and baby would be fine. But something deep inside of me suggested that might not be the case. I tried to comfort him and encourage him, but no promises were forthcoming.

Johnny and I were sitting together when the unthinkable news arrived. His beloved wife had passed away during childbirth. Their baby daughter had survived and was undergoing further treatment in critical care. But Rachel’s body had succumbed to pre-eclampsia or septicemia, I can’t recall which one took her life.

What I do recall with perfect clarity is that Johnny collapsed on my shoulder and began to sob, his broad shoulders heaving up and down. I wrapped my arms around him as he cried uncontrollably, hot tears raining down on my shoulder, without relief.  

When Rachel’s parents arrived, we were all escorted into a small room to view the body. It was one of the most devastating scenes I’d ever witnessed. The family gathered around her empty shell and stood in catatonic shock, grief-stricken, stunned. Her father suddenly blurted out an angry, agonizing cry of shattered disbelief, sending a shudder through my heart.

More family members arrived to further tears and sorrows. I stayed close to Johnny, supporting him as best as I could. I remained by his side as the bitterly surreal hours passed slowly into the night.