The young father-to-be could never predict he would be leaving South Florida tonight without the love of his life, without his son due to be born in a matter of weeks, without any hope of the life he was so looking forward to living.
I listened to Michael DeMella's pastor talk about that in a phone conversation today, about Alanna DeMella's sudden and heartbreaking death, crushed by the sedan that crashed through the little poolside cabana buildilng at the Riverside Hotel. The pastor talked about the chain of events leading up to their visit to Fort Lauderdale from their home near Boston, and it got me thinking about fate, and how the smallest of decisions can alter its course.
The DeMellas had decided to enter an essay contest at their church for an all-expenses-paid trip to Fort Lauderdale, to attend a marriage conference held last weekend for people of faith. The theme of that essay entry was "how the trip would bless our marriage". The pastor said the DeMella's entry was the slam-dunk winner. Two other couples won trips, too.
The marriage retreat and getaway ended Sunday. The DeMellas decided to extend their vacation one more day, and move from the hotel near the weekend retreat to the downtown Fort Lauderdale Riverside Hotel.
That's where they spent Sunday morning sunning and chatting by the pool, according to other pool-goers, a happy, in-love, bonded couple. So caring, they say, Michael DeMella encouraged his pregnant wife to use the bathroom before they left the pool.
That was just before 1:30 Sunday afternoon.
What if they never entered that essay contest? What if their essay wasn't chosen as the best?
What if they departed on schedule instead of deciding to stay extra day? What if they stayed the extra night in the same hotel instead of moving to Riverside? What if they stayed at the pool a bit longer? What if they left without that last trip to the bathroom?
A change in any one of those decisions along the way would most certainly have put Alanna DeMella somewhere other than in that bathroom just before 1:30 Sunday afternoon. That is haunting Michael DeMella, according to his pastor.
Every decision points in a direction. Do you believe in fate?