Danny Oertli's extremely moving story tells of tragedy and loss, but it also tells of triumph, healing and coming to know God more through the struggle and the pain. It's one of those stories that will allow you to look at your own life and your own issues and see them as not being nearly as bad as they could be.
The book doesn't answer the ever-present question "Why do bad things happen to good people?", but it doesn't try to; instead it focuses on getting through it.
'Mommy Paints the Sky' - A Tale of Innocent Love
The beginning of Danny Oertili's relationship with his wife Cyndi reads like a sappy-sweet fairy tale that would be just too much for regular humans to bear if it weren't true. Young and innocent love that blossoms into a meaningful relationship and from there transitions quite naturally into a strong marriage is the stuff that dreams are made of. But this dream had a major chink in it ... cancer struck Cyndi just six months into their marriage. While cancer treatment is never easy or cheap, they survived it and even grew stronger in their marriage. The cost of Cyndi's health, however, was that she was "very unlikely" to conceive, so dreams of having a baby shifted into dreams of adoption. But God's funny about not paying attention to likelihood and against all of the odds, Cyndi became pregnant. Their little picture perfect family seemed to be sitting at the top of the world, having overcome so many obstacles, when God brought a baby boy into their home through adoption. You can't help but cheer when the underdog wins, so you can't help but smile at their success.
A Tragic Ending
Sadly, life doesn't always find a new pattern of good times and just stick to it, and triumph soons turns to tragedy when Cyndi starts feeling ill and is gone in less than 48 hours. Danny, of course, is devasted and despite his faith, can't seem to find answers or peace. As time progresses, and the simple act of breathing becomes less of a struggle he starts to heal but isn't quite sure if the kids understand concepts like "sovereign" and "eternity", which he has used to try to explain Cyndi's death. But God soon answered his question through a sunset.
"Gracie, Jack and I were driving down the road in my really fast Honda minivan. As we pulled into a parking space at Wal-Mart an incredible sunset began to form over the mountains. The car's interior was bathed in amber light and deep strokes of yellow criss-crossed the sky, as if drawn by an unseen hand.
'Daddy,' came Gracie's little voice from the back seat, 'Did God let mommy paint the sky tonight?'
A New Beginning
Somehow, on that night, God gave Gracie a glimpse of something that touched her little heart. He began to heal her. On a warm, November night, God used the magnificence of His creation to teach a lonely little girl a lesson her father could not - that mommy had gone to be with Jesus. God began to heal a little heart that was hurting for its mommy."
The story doesn't end there, as God brings more healing to the family and they again make it to the top of the mountain from the valley. You'll just have to read it yourself in order to get the full impact and find out what the happy ending is. But be prepared, because this story will wring emotion right out of you. You'll find yourself laughing with Danny one moment and crying the next. You'll discover a new side and a depth to singer/songwriter Danny Oertli that you may not have known existed. And you'll walk away with a new appreciation for life.