The Heart of the Game

Danny and I met at Biola University in California, when I was a freshman and he was a junior. He was a baseball player there, and I played volleyball, and he says that from the moment he saw me on campus, I was off-limits to his friends! We started dating, then married during his last semester on February 3, 1979. People ask if I knew what I was getting into when I married a coach! Since he was doing his student teaching and coaching that final year, I would have to say yes! I had a basic idea of life with a coach, but was not prepared for that coach to have a lifetime of health issues.

After five years of marriage, when Danny was 27, we found out that he had diabetes. He was coaching baseball, basketball and football, but aside from being exhausted, diabetes was the only health problem we really dealt with for years.

In the fall of 2014, Danny developed a chronic cough, and one day he blacked out at school. At that point, we rushed him to the ER and found that his heart had 20,000 extra beats per 24 hours. We were shocked, and I was overwhelmed. I knew I could take care of his diabetes, but not his heart.

We moved into a season of intense health treatments and medicines. As strange as it might sound, I can see how God used coaching to prepare Danny to help keep track of the medical schedule. Because Danny was a baseball coach for so many years, he had experience keeping the stats and charts, and this really prepared him to keep up with his medicine doses. However, 2015 marked the beginning of an uphill battle when he discovered that he had a rare lung disease. We saw his heart weakening and found that it was only functioning at 14%.

In the fall of 2015, we ended up in the ER again. I remember being in the hospital after the doctor had given us the news that Danny would not recover. Danny and I started talking about the day-to-day things like where I should live, and what kind of car I should drive after he was gone, and I’ll never forget his response when I shared my concerns with him. He said, “Cindy, we have the right God.” Later that night, all of our kids and Danny’s mom and sisters came to say goodbye. Our son Jordan was playing professional basketball in Europe, so we FaceTimed him in to be a part of the moment. Then the hours passed, and there was no explanation. He just got better! Danny was released a few days later.

We returned home and continued with our medical charts, doctor visits, treatments and monitoring diabetes. Then came the big shock – Danny said he wanted to coach again. I absolutely could not get on board with this. I was perfectly content to be a retired coach’s wife. When he said he wanted to coach, I told him that I didn’t support him, then I basically tattled on him to the doctor. However, the doctor was supportive, saying that Danny had so much to give – so much knowledge and wisdom – and if he died, he would die doing what he loved. That all made sense, but still I struggled and I continue to struggle, but I’m learning to trust the Lord through it all. The first year, I said, “God, he is your man.” The second year I was shaken, because it felt like the Lord was asking too much of me.

Danny started coaching again in 2018. We do the doctor visits during the day, and I go to practices and games to make sure he is not feeling weak, and to be there if he needs me. It’s not an easy thing, but we appreciate each day together. And when I see him on the mound, praying with the players after every practice and every game, I am reminded that coaching is an eternal investment. When we go to the 50th birthday parties of former players and their families, I’m reminded that coaching leaves a legacy. Physically, his heart still only functions at 14%, but he gives his heart 110% to his players, and I am so thankful for that.

When people ask me how we do life this way, I tell them it’s ONLY the Lord. And I need the Lord to strengthen my “heartbeat” so I can care for Danny! We are so dependent on God for everything. When he leaves for the day, we typically say, “See you later, either after practice or in heaven.”

This may sound morbid, but the reality is that none of us know what a day will hold. The truth is that God is my heartbeat - the only One who keeps us all alive and breathing! It’s only by His Word that I have direction and strength for each day, and for this season, God wants my husband to keep coaching.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has given me life.” -Psalm 119:50

*Written by Cindy Wild for CWM Seasons Magazine, Spring 2020

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