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Living for Faith and faith

Daniel Huey gives thanks despite losing half his family
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
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Courtesy photo Daniel Huey prepares to celebrate his daughter Faith's first birthday with a trip to Elli's Pumpkin Patch. It's been over four months since Huey's wife and son were killed in a car-on-bicycle accident in Idaho.

Daniel Huey is grateful to be back in Ruston. In spite of unimaginable loss, that sense of gratitude continues to permeate every ounce of his being. It’s something he openly attributes to his faith.

“My faith carried me through,” Huey said. “My faith sustained me. People often criticize using Christ as a crutch to get through life, and I guess there are people who do that. But for me, Jesus is not a crutch. He subsists in life. And that really gives me hope.”

Such hope has been instrumental in Huey overcoming what most would consider an insurmountable challenge: the tragic, simultaneous loss of a spouse and child. Yet, even in his lowest moments of devastation and depression, Huey has leaned into his faith with a sense of gratitude for how it provided the foundation needed to endure his unexpected loss.

“Christ just doesn’t exist, standing outside it all,” Huey continued. “He subsists in my being and is the foundation of my being. And I am grateful for that foundation all those years coming up to this time because He has shown He subsists with me. The grief isn’t erased, the challenge isn’t gone, the difficulty doesn’t vanish. Yet I’ve been able to endure with the assurance I’m not alone.”

July 4, 2022, changed his life forever. That’s when he, his wife Beth, and their two small children, Paul and Faith, were on vacation. While riding their tandem bike in Idaho, the family was struck by a vehicle. The accident claimed the lives of both Beth and Paul. It also left Huey and his daughter in critical condition, their lives hanging in the balance with an uncertain future. Both pulled through, and despite moving forward without half of his family, Huey knew he had a profound reason to live.

“I often tell people that my faith and my Faith (referring to his one-year-old daughter) pulled me back,” Huey said. “Sure there have been days when I’ve been completely despondent, even paralyzed in many ways. But time helps. And Faith needed me. So I just couldn’t give up. I wouldn’t give up. I kept her in the forefront of everything.”

Huey realizes what happened is one of the most horrific things that could happen to a person. No matter how awful things were or how he felt, he knew God would lead him through. He openly offers encouragement to others that whatever it is, whatever you’re facing, God will get you through it. He added that sometimes that requires us to take the first step ourselves by reaching out and following God’s word.

“Many mornings I felt hopeless, going through depression, and I would pray about how to do this,” Huey continued. “And I would roll out of bed and almost immediately when I took my first step, I felt better. I believe if you keep pushing forward, God will get you through it. You realize that the world can take your family, your livelihood, the things you love, but it can’t take God from you. I’m grateful for that.”

Previously a disciplined cyclist who conditioned himself stringently to prepare for the long bike rides and rigorous hikes he shared with his wife, Huey found his lack of strength while healing to be one of his biggest hurdles. A colostomy also served as a persistent reminder of the circumstance with which he found himself dealing. He also knew his physical state played a big role in recovering both his mental and emotional condition. So he knew he had to push it.

He’s already biking and hiking again.

“Three days before the accident I was engaging in one of the most challenging hikes of my life,” Huey recalled. “ Then everything changed. But I knew I needed to get back to doing what I love. So within two weeks of being back in Louisiana I was on a hike, carrying Faith in a carrier on my back. It was emotional but kinda in a humorous way. I really felt like ‘I’m back.’ It was a monumental milestone in my healing.”

Getting back on a bike was even more therapeutic. And while he continues to regain his strength and stamina, Huey has a very special bike trip planned for the summer. With the investigation into the accident likely to be completed in June, Huey is determined to return to the scene where his life changed forever.

“I plan to visit the motorist who caused the accident then finish the bike ride we had started,” he said.

For many, the idea of visiting the individual who took so much would be completely out of the question.

For Huey, it’s part of doing the right thing.

“I thought to myself, this motorist might not be a Christian,” Huey explained. “I didn’t know anything about him, not even his name. But what if I’m the only one who could show him the love of Jesus Christ? So I chose to forgive him, even after hearing the news that Beth and Paul were gone. I understand he needs to face the consequences for his actions, but I definitely want to make sure he knows I was sincere. And that is important for my emotional healing as well. I don’t think I would have been able to move on and reclaim my life if I was trying to hold onto a grudge.”

Rather than a grudge, Huey is holding on to gratitude. Because he finds so much to be thankful for in what he considers a blessed life.

“I’m grateful for the ability to forgive,” he said. “Too many people hold on to negativity but I believe it’s better to reach deep within ourselves and find the ability to forgive others.”

As for being home, there’s a long list of things for which Huey gives thanks. He’s grateful to be back among his faith family at Temple Baptist Church as well as the “Gram Fam” at Grambling State University, where he is an assistant professor of music theory. Between the two and throughout the community, Huey has felt the arms of so many around him and Faith as they have recovered.

His thankfulness for the support shown through cards, donations of all kinds and how people have given from their heart through their time and treasure has been overwhelming.

He’s also thankful for his family and the fact that he’s been able to get back to his outdoor activities as quickly as he has. He’s grateful that he’s not as afraid of things as he was before and gleefully admits to being thankful he can eat at Ponchatoulas restaurant again.

He’s grateful that things are more manageable now and that he feels like he can handle things even while reclaiming the joys from before the accident. He’s grateful he still has music and has his eye on another recital in the future. And he gives thanks for his peace about Beth and Paul.

“I miss them of course, but I find such peace in knowing they are in a better place with Christ in heaven,” Huey said. “Plus I knew God could use this for the good and their testimony then would have the potential to point people to Christ. So I’m thankful that there’s this clarity on how to share what God has done in my life with others. Even when I might not feel it, I’ve known God was there. And He was. I had to take Him at His word because He said He would never leave me nor forsake me. And He hasn’t.”