Diana Green felt like she had a new husband after Floyd suffered a brain injury.
They were riding bikes, side by side down a sidewalk in West Palm Beach, Fla. It was May 5, 1995, and Floyd and Diana Green were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel for a three-day business conference. Floyd was going to be honored for being one of the top producers that year in his company.
It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. With some free time that afternoon, they decided to rent bicycles. Riding in tandem down the sidewalk, they talked about the different ways God had blessed them: Twenty-four years of marriage…two wonderful daughters…a business they enjoyed…the opportunity to speak at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences. They felt like the richest people in the world.
The sidewalk was just about to run out; they would have to switch to a bike path along the road, and could no longer ride next to each other. “Well, it looks like our own little personal paradise is coming to an end,” Diana said.
There was no warning. One moment Diana was riding about 10 feet behind Floyd, and the next moment she found herself knocked to the side. She put her foot down to catch herself before falling off the bicycle, felt pain in her shoulder and thigh, and realized a car had grazed her.
When she looked up, she watched as the same car plowed straight into her husband. “It was like watching a movie in slow motion,” she recalls. “I could hear my voice yelling, but I couldn’t feel my mouth moving.”
She ran up and found Floyd lying in a fetal position on the ground in a pool of thick blood. He wasn’t breathing, and was hemorrhaging from his ear, nose, eyes, and mouth. Diana felt totally helpless as she knelt by Floyd, knowing she shouldn’t even touch him as she waited for paramedics to arrive. There was only one thing she could do, and so she began a series of remarkable prayers to the God she knew was the only One who had the power to save her husband:
“God, I don’t have any right to ask you for anything and whatever You have for me I will receive with open arms. We have had the happiest and the most blessed life and I haven’t got a leg to stand on to ask you to do anything for us now. If it is our turn to be called to suffer, then just give me the grace to be able to do it in ways to exalt You.”
“Please take all that is left of Diana away. I don’t want her anymore. I don’t want her vanity. I don’t want her pride. I don’t want any of the things that are important to her. I just want to be completely filled with your Holy Spirit. God, this is an emergency. Please don’t hold anything back and don’t let any part of me be effective in resisting You.”
When the police arrived, they took one look at Floyd and told Diana to go sit in their car. They didn’t think he was alive.
All she could think was that she needed to urge people to pray for Floyd. She asked people at the scene of the accident if they prayed, and a sanitation worker said he did sometimes. “Would you please pray with me?” she implored. “Because the prayer of two is more effective than the prayer of one.” Then some friends from the conference began to arrive, and those who were Christians prayed with Diana as well.
It was another two and a half hours before Diana learned that Floyd would live. He had a fractured skull, a broken collarbone, two cracked ribs, multiple abrasions and contusions and torn ligaments, and a severely injured foot. And, doctors said, he had suffered brain damage. They had no idea how it would affect him.
As she sat by her unconscious husband, Diana decided once again to renew the vows she had made to Floyd and before God 24 years earlier. “Whatever man wakes up from this,” she prayed, “I will love him, and he will be my husband all the days of my life.” As she later told Floyd, it wasn’t a romantic moment-just a commitment between her and God.
Later, when Diana told Floyd that she had remarried him while he was unconscious, he broke down and sobbed. “I also told him,” Diana says, “that I wanted a new ring and another honeymoon!”
A new husband
The Floyd Green who woke up after the accident was, indeed, a different man. Some of the changes were physical–his hair turned gray during his three weeks in the Florida hospital. He lost his senses of taste and smell.
Other changes seemed humorous to Floyd and Diana. He once hated Chinese food, but now he loves it-even though he can’t taste or smell it. Also, “I really have bonded with our cat,” Floyd says. “Before, I didn’t pay any attention to cats. Now, if somebody tells a cat joke, I get mad!”
Most of the differences, however, were mental and emotional. Before the accident, Floyd was much more assertive and driven. He loved exercise and physical challenges. Now he was much more passive, often looking to Diana to tell him what to do. He rarely exercised.
It was difficult for him to concentrate, and to follow conversations. He was easily confused. He would work a couple hours at the office and return home totally exhausted from the mental and physical effort. With each year his stamina increases, and medications have helped his concentration, but the constant struggle took a toll on Floyd emotionally.
“I went through a lot of depression,” he says. “I had always been very level, very predictable, very dependable. Just having these ups and downs emotionally was really new, and especially new for Diana to adjust to.”
For Diana, the changes were disorienting. While Floyd increasingly felt more comfortable with the person he had become, she grieved for the husband she had lost. “After 24 years of marriage we sort of knew how to do this dance,” she says. “And we were good at it. We had a very smooth dance that was happy and harmonious and fit us both. And when he woke up from the accident, he couldn’t dance. I had to carry him for the first couple of years. And then slowly we had to rebuild the dance.”
It wasn’t just Diana who had a difficult time making adjustments. At times, Floyd found himself wondering if this woman who had married the old Floyd was the right match for the new Floyd. “I can remember being attracted to you because you were so creative and had all these fun ideas,” he told Diana, “but to be honest with you, I wish you were a different kind of person because you just exhaust me.”
Just as a newly-married couple needs to focus on the positive qualities they see in their mate rather than the negative, Floyd and Diana determined to do the same. In Diana’s case, she came up with a list of things she loved and respected about her husband.
“I love his godliness, that he has been faithful to God,” Diana says. “In the face of real disappointment and limitations and suffering and depression and great obstacles, he has never complained.”
“I respect that he’s loved his kids, I respect that he’s been faithful to me, I respect that he has kept his character, I respect that he kept his business together and has continued to provide for his family and been creative in how he’s done that.”
“I respect him now for deeper things than what I respected him for before.”
The Greens also realized that, though they had lost many things in their marriage, they still worked well together as parents. So they decided to add to their family by adopting three Russian children-Katia, Alex, and Lena.
“We decided that’s what we had left to build on,” Diana recalls. “We still shared the same dedication to parenting and to our children, Heather and Kelsey. So we brought in some children who didn’t know Floyd before. I figured that would buy us some time to heal, and by the time those children have grown and gone, we will have built up enough shared memories together as a family. We will have done something together that is productive and positive. Our love for these kids is reknitting us together.”
In a sense, Floyd and Diana’s first marriage ended and their second began on that sunny Florida day in 1995 when Diana renewed her wedding vows before God. A year later, on their 25th anniversary, they renewed those vows together before before family and friends. It was a public demonstration of their trust in a God who can heal a broken body and give new hope to a marriage.
And yes, Floyd did give his bride a new ring, and another honeymoon—a trip to Paris.
Adapted from I Still Do: Stories of Lifelong Love and Marriage, by David Boehi. Copyright 2000 by FamilyLife. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers.