The Hand That Will Never Let Go: A Father's Final Moments with His Newborn Daughter
We have precious moments in our lives when we celebrate the creation of life. We also have moments when we mourn the loss of those who have influenced a huge part of our lives. In either case, we grow attached to the people we love and we do all we can to hold onto them, especially when they have raised us from the time of our birth. However, these moments can bring mixed emotions when they occur separately. What do we do then if such a rare moment occurs where joy and tragedy can suddenly strike us all in one blow?
Diane Aulger has experienced this moment, and now she must find the strength she needs to bring happiness back into her family in Texas.
On February 13, 2012, MSNBC reported that Diane had to make a quick and risky decision in order for her husband to see their newborn daughter, Savannah Aulger.
Mark Augler, who was 52 at the time of Savannah’s birth, was diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2011. He underwent surgery to have the cancer removed. In addition, Marks’ doctors had him undergo chemotherapy to ensure the cancer would not return. Mark had followed-up visits with his doctors after the sessions were done and they found no further signs of the cancer. The family felt sure all was well.
Then on January 5, things took a turn for the worse. Mark had become so gravely ill that he had to be admitted to the emergency room. Upon examination, Marks' doctors had diagnosed him with pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scaring and thickening in the lungs.
In a video interview from ABC news, Diane had explained that Mark’s lungs had been essentially, “soaked in concrete,” making breathing for him virtually impossible.
By January 16, further doctor tests had shown that nothing more could be done to save Mark’s life. He was only given five to six days to live. He spent all those days in a hospital bed, wearing an oxygen mask.
In the MSNBC article, Diane had told the press that her husband had said to her: “I'd like to see the baby.” After consulting with physicians, she did what she could to make sure Mark’s wishes would come true: she underwent induced labor two weeks before she was originally scheduled to give birth to Savannah.
After Savannah was born, she was given to Mark for him to hold her. He did so for 45 minutes, cradling her close to his body. As days grew on, he become weaker and could only hold onto Savannah for brief moments. His four older children, ranging from ages 7 to 15, remained by his side over those days. Diane lied by his side, holding his hand while recovering from her pregnancy.
By January 21, he had slipped into a coma. Two days later, Mark passed away, still holding onto his baby girl as well as Diane’s hand.
“She is the ray of sunshine in our sorrow,” remarked Diane on HLN News as she cradled Savannah while she drank milk from her baby bottle.
Since that time, Diane has received generous donations from both family and strangers alike.
HLN News had reported that a roofing company had volunteered their time to help replace the roof on their home free of charge. The company, called Quick Roofing, was Mark’s last employer. A co-worker had remarked that Mark had often mentioned his plans for getting the roof repaired.
Incredibly, the charitable contributions towards this family did not stop there.
On February 15, News 8, a local news station in Dallas, reported that Diane received donations of baby clothes, food, diapers, and other items essential to proper baby care. Diane had also mentioned in this report that she received numerous prayer cards and some of them contained monetary donations between $100 to $200. A California millionaire, who asked to remain anonymous, had even purchased a mini-van big enough for Diane’s family.
Quick Roofing had also posted some information to donate money to Diane’s family via a bank account opened for them at Wells Fargo. The deposit information can be found on the page's February 17 posting:
Diane is grateful for the gifts she's received, but also especially grateful of her kids. She says her children still talk about their father and help her to, “…keep me going.”
I will be the first to admit that this was, by far, the hardest story for me to write about to date. I was barely able to fight back the tears as I saw the mother cry in her video interviews while recalling Mark ‘s final days.
There are numerous charities around the country that focus on giving towards good causes. The American Red Cross, Homeworks, Habitat for Humanity just to a name a few. These are great organizations that help people in need on a massive scale.
Now try to break it down to helping out one person in serious need. How many chances do we get to help that one person who has gone through serious hardship and pain whether it be someone we know or a stranger we’ve heard about? We focus on that individuals’ needs and begin to realize how much our help really means to that one person. We see how much that hurt has impacted that person’s lifestyle and sense of worth. When someone suffers from an emotional loss or pain, we feel sympathetic towards the person’s pain even if we don’t fully appreciate nor understand what he or she is going through. When someone suffers a great harm, we often feel a need to do what we can to make the pain go away.
Diane’s pain from the loss of her husband is a great one. Her children, I’m sure, feel it even more. They lost a loving and caring man. It happened so early in their age at a time where they are still growing up fresh in world with little understanding of why bad things can happen to people they love. Worst of all, Savannah will never have the luxury of truly remembering what her father was like.
Yet even through all this misery, the family has a chance to live a truly blessed life. They have the love and support of so many people around them…people who have donated whatever means they have to help them through their loss. They have kept up the memory of a loving man who gave them happiness and joy that will go on and on so long as they keep the memories of him close to their hearts. They have a loving mother who is doing all she can to keep her familys’ spirits high.
Most important of all, they have a new member of the family that will add even more joy to their lives. Savannah may not remember her time with her father, but the love Diane and her other children had for him will be told to Savannah day after day. The tales of his great affection and time with his family will be so numerous that she will come to know the real man Mark was. In time, she will come to love her family and share that love with everyone she meets, becoming the very daughter that would have made Mark proud of her.
The loss of a life, especially of someone we love, is never an easy thing to handle. However, this story has strengthened my faith and belief that there is enough love and support in this world to help us get through such a dark time.
No amount of money or gifts will ever replace the lost of someone special. However, the time we spend to help someone through such pain will continue to provide a sense of warmth, comfort, and happiness into that person’s life.