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Reader voices: Escapade at Neah Bay was a reminder of the Savior's love

By Jelean Reynolds

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

Our friends were coming from Utah for a short vacation. We loved Dan and Luana. It was always pleasurable to be with them. We went to a restaurant on the water front in Tacoma, Wash. It was a peaceful and calm night. We dined outdoors in a sunlit surrounding.

Early the next morning, we were on our way to Neah Bay, the northwest tip of the United States. We were going salmon fishing on the Pacific Ocean. The four-hour drive was a scenic, picturesque trip. Upon our arrival we hurriedly unpacked and headed toward the bay. We only caught one and a half fish the first day. Dan had caught a medium-size cod. Rich cleaned it on the dock and half of it slipped into the water. Thus, our supposedly half-a-fish catch. Rich gave the other half to a hungry-looking man passing by.

The next day we had been on the water a couple of hours when Luana noticed the fishing pole jerking. Rich grasped the pole and handed it to Dan. It took awhile and a lot of strength as the weighty fish cavorted from one side of the boat to the other, giving Rich and Dan an incredible pursuit. Finally, they netted and landed the obviously large salmon. The 24-pound king was a prize. We were ecstatic! What a fish! What a keeper!

We put our fantastic fish in the cooler and headed for the marina. As we were attempting to guide the boat into our slip, the wind caught us and our vessel blew out of control. Rich bridged his hands against other boats to prevent any contact with them. Somehow his arm bashed between a post and a boat. The result was a deep laceration on the lower part of his right arm with profound abrasions on the outside of the arm.

Rich began bleeding profusely. He grew weak, pale and unsteady. He had lost a lot of blood. There wasn’t a hospital in Neah Bay. However, there was a medical center. Upon our arrival to the center and the doctor’s evaluation, the team went to work. The bleeding was ultimately stopped by using a tourniquet and applying direct hand-held force on the laceration. An artery had been severed. It was sutured and the doctors proceeded to stitch inside and outside. It was a lengthy procedure.

When I arrived at the medical center, I became aware that my husband’s condition was undeniably serious. I was apprehensive and frightened. I was unable to get close to Rich, to comfort him, to hold his hand while he was being attended to by the physicians.

While waiting alone, a woman came to my room. She had come to check on me. She questioned if I was OK and told me my husband was in good hands. I welcomed her genuine solace. She was not a part of the medical staff. I will always remember the stranger who sat beside me and the comfort she brought to me. Dan and Luana joined me. The three of us waited beyond the door for the doctor’s report. We were all distraught but our love for each other was a great source of endurance.

After Rich’s arm had been bandaged, an aide began walking him down the hall. There he stood pulling his IV stand. His blue jeans had been cut from the knee up along the thigh in order for the nurse to take his blood pressure on his upper leg.

His blood-stained torn pants were flapping, his underwear was hanging through his cut pants. His wound was visible. His hair was ruffled, his baseball cap turned to the side. His shirt was halfway untucked.

We were witnessing the image of a distraught man tousled and torn, yet stalwart in character. His genuine character had always been part of his personality. In spite of the trauma we were experiencing, we couldn’t help but laugh. The laughter at his appearance helped us cope. Rich stopped and turned toward us. He responded with a slight smile.

I finally went to my husband to be by his side. I held his hand and he held mine. It was a comfort for each of us. I gently stroked his shoulder. We didn’t say much to each other. But we felt love, reassurance and support.

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