Tomorrow, Saturday, October 15th, will mark the 5-year anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death in a fiery car crash during an Indy car race in Las Vegas. In honor of Dan, I would like to repost an essay I wrote a week after his death. Rest in peace Dan, and may God watch over your wife, Susie, and your two sons.
Does anyone know where the love of God goes?
It has been a little over a week since Dan Wheldon died in a horrible car crash on a race track in Las Vegas. The sight of his car flying through the air on its way towards that chain link fence will be etched in my memory forever.
My son and his fiancé were friends of Dan, and I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Dan and his wife, Susie, when we were guests of Dan after an Indy Car race at mid-Ohio raceway last year. We sat outside Dan’s mobile home, and ate pizza and drank wine with some other drivers, crew members and race officials. I will always remember how kind and loving he was to my grandchildren that day. I will always remember how kind he was to me, out of respect for his friendship with my son.
All those wonderful memories from last year were swirling around in my head as I watched Dan’s car disintegrate. We live in a technological age, so this isn’t the first time I have witnessed death on television. I watched the horrors of the Twin Towers falling on 9/11. I witnessed the Space Shuttle disasters…but this was the first time I actually had met the person involved.
Dan wasn’t the first…and he won’t be the last, to be unfairly taken from us way too soon.
There is no logic. There is no greater purpose. Maybe, there is to God…but to all of us without the wisdom of God, we are left scratching our heads and asking why? We don’t see a greater purpose. We only see the unbearable pain that a family will be forced to suffer. To those of us left, there is the reminder that our time here is borrowed time.
The headline for this blog comes from a song written by Gordon Lightfoot, called The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Lightfoot wrote about an ore ship that sank on the Great Lakes back in the 70’s with all 29 crew members on board. The song goes….”Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours.” You can interchange the word “waves” with whatever word fits for your particular situation. For Dan it was “pavement”…but it could have just as well been hospital bed, or battlefield, or whatever location where death paid an untimely visit to someone you loved.
Many of us have had time stand still as a horrible event unfolded in front of us. Everything appears to happen in slow motion…tempting us into believing that, if we could just get ourselves into motion, we could somehow alter the outcome. Later, we come to understand we were powerless to change anything, that by some awful twist of fate, we were meant merely to be a spectator.
In the song, Lightfoot laments about all scenarios which could have played out to save the ship.“The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay if they'd put fifteen more miles behind 'er.” Those who loved and knew Dan Wheldon have scores of “what if’s” too.
Next month, on November 10th, it will be 36-years since the Edmund Fitzgerald slid into the icy waters of Lake Superior sending 29 men to their graves…”and all that remains is the faces and names of the wives, and the sons, and the daughters.” Whether your end comes in a fiery car crash, or during a winter storm, being tossed about on a lake, those remaining are left thinking…”Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”
Having some time to reflect on what happened on that race track in Las Vegas, I am saddened. For most people, Dan Wheldon will be remembered for how he died, not how he lived.
Anyone who has ever read any of my blogs is aware that I am constantly telling my children that our time here on Earth is God’s teachable moment with us. While I can find no teachable moment in Dan Wheldon’s death, there certainly is in his life.
Dan excelled in his work. He found his passion in life, and he went about being the best at what he did for a living. He found time to be a great husband and a devoted father. He treated those he met with kindness and respect. He was a good friend. His funeral and memorial were a testament to his life. Those who miss him number in the thousands.
The old adage about it’s not the quantity of time we are given, but the quality of time seems completely relevant in Dan’s situation. We have no choice in how we die…but we do in how we live.
“Does anyone know where the love of God goes?”
It never left us…it was always there. It was blocked by unbearable pain and grief for a time…but as fog gives way to light, so does death give way to life.
May God watch over Dan Wheldon and his family.
Pictured below is Dan and his family after winning the Indy 500 for the 2nd time in 2011