ARTICLES, HEALTHY LIVING & WELL BEING. EATING DISORDERS
A Late Night Phone Call with No Good News
Chad Mierau’s life was running smoothly, both professionally and personally. Despite a painful divorce in 2014, Chad had the opportunity to rebuild his life alongside his family and friends.
Chad grew up in a life that favoured both simplicity and hard work. Initially born in Melville, Chad spent most of his childhood running a farm with his family in Watrous, Saskatchewan. His work on the farm, though tiring, bred the dedication needed for Chad to become a successful entrepreneur.
Chad opened his first company in 2012. He proved to be a successful business owner and furthered his portfolio by opening an additional company that same year. As the proceeding years progressed, Chad took his career to the next level by taking over a $1,000,000 road company, and he began to discuss plans to open yet another company, Napa Auto Parts, with his mom and sister.
Chad seemed to hit his peak before January 2, 2016, when life as he once knew it abruptly changed.
It’s rare that a late phone call holds good news. For Chad and his family, this was no exception.
His sister had been driving home late one night with her husband and their two children.
Their car collided with a vehicle that had failed to halt at a stop sign. The driver of the vehicle that would cost the lives of four people was impaired. She had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Chad’s sister and her husband were killed upon impact.
“The phone call brought me to my knees,” he recounted. I could hear his voice quivering on the other end of the phone. I began to break as I relived this moment with him.
Chad gathered himself as he made his way to the hospital. Not knowing what the damage was exactly, he prepared himself for what was to come.
Upon his arrival at the hospital, Chad had the opportunity to say goodbye to his sister and the man that she loved. She was his very best friend, his first phone call after a good or a bad day. “The hardest part was watching my mom say goodbye to her youngest daughter,” he explained. The selflessness in his voice echoed as he recalled how his mother’s pain was even more excruciating to him than his own.
His niece and nephew were in life-threatening condition. Chad’s two-year-old nephew was kept breathing with the help of hospital staff and a disposable resuscitator. Chad held his nephew for hours leading up to his death, giving the young boy a place of comfort and refuge.
When seeing his niece, the damage was severe. She was hooked up to multiple monitors and had numerous lacerations to her skull and face. Tests were performed to assess her brain activity and, despite the pleas for her recovery, the doctor declared her braindead.
The innocent, five-year-old little girl was on life-support as the family decided whether to consent for her to be a donor. In the last few hours of that sweet angel’s life, she fought to keep other people alive with her healthy organs. All of her organs (except her lungs) were successfully removed and transplanted into others in need.
After the event that could only be described as a nightmare, Chad and his family still had a long, painful road to travel. His sister and her husband were young, healthy parents – which, as a result, hadn’t created a will yet. It was the responsibility of the families to disperse their belongings fairly. Such huge decisions, with conflicting interests, are challenging to make amid shock, trauma, and grief.
“When we all got to my sister’s house, the first thing we did was the dishes.” Everything had been left as though there was a family of four returning. The entire family, understandably in auto-pilot, began the mundane task while their responsibilities piled up like the dishes had.
A funeral for four was thrown days after the accident — 1,200 people attended to grieve a loving, bright mother, father and two beautiful children.
The days melted into months. The time banded together in a blur of trauma, anger, and sadness.
The face of the world had changed.
His extreme mourning ultimately affected his short-term memory. His ability to recall information proved to have complications to his professional and personal life. His companies began to plummet financially, while he would have to make notes of all upcoming appointments for both him and his children. He recalls wanting to stay in bed to mourn his family and his livelihood.
Yet, Chad was a proud father, and as I learned during our phone call, a fierce fighter.
In 2017, Chad had a revelation.
“I would wake up in the morning and make the decision to promise my sister that I would do better,” he explained. “Every day those four keep me going. I lost my favourite person.”
Through some of the most challenging days of his life, it had become clear that Chad had learned the strength of thought and perseverance.
“Every day is a conscious decision to get up, plan it out, check in with her and just do better,” he answered when I asked how he pushed through the pain, “What we hold in our minds is so powerful.”
I was taken aback by his positivity and strength. His next words of softness astonished me even more, “I believed in being strong, yet being emotional so that my kids can see both sides.”
Chad explained how his children were an active part of his grieving process. He would bravely open up about his grief to his two children, and encourage open lines of communication and, of course, tears, when need be.
As Chad began to slowly crawl out of a hole that a drunk driver dug for him on January 2, 2016, his life began to change. His previously failing businesses began to pick their momentum back up. His family began to lean on each other more. He became an even better father. He even met a woman who made life just click.
After the Humboldt tragedy of April 6, 2018, Chad paid it forward with the invaluable resources he was offered after the collision that tore through his life. He reflected on the support he got from Victim Services, “Sometimes, minimal words were used. It was about just being present.”
Chad travelled to Humboldt to offer his support to the grieving families of the 29 people on the Broncos bus.
As Chad became more mentally, emotionally and spiritually stronger than ever before, he revisited the business idea that was once a dream that he shared with his sister.
Chad, his mother, and his eldest sister opened Napa Auto Parts in the memory of his very best friend, the love of her life, and their two beautiful children.
“Without the hell, I wouldn’t have found success.”
Written by Celina Dawdy