Mya Daniel says she knows for a fact that God is not dead.
If he was, she would have been dead too, after a serious sickness took over her body back in 1998 and she was literally dragged to death’s door.
Sixteeen years later, Daniel is a practising attorney, a wife and mother of a “miracle” four-year-old baby, and her faith is as strong as it has ever been.
In fact, no one can convince her that it was not God who closed death’s door and brought her back to the land of living.
“God is very real, and he is still very much alive,” she proclaimed in an interview this week with Barbados TODAY at her Fitts Village, St James home.
She went on to explain that she had a “personal relationship with God”, while stating quite matter-of-factly that “with Him, I can accomplish anything”.
“Even in these difficult times, because He is with me, I know who to call on and I know that I can make it. If I was doing it with my own strength, I can’t say that I would go very far because that is just a part of the equation,” she added.
As a young adult, hers was a household name in the island’s gospel industry. Mya, as she was popularly known, seemed to have everything going for her. Apart from being the daughter of a prominent religious leader, she attracted her own share of the spotlight on account of her angelic voice.
Her young adulthood was filled with friendships, achievements, and her future appeared very bright.
However, that brightness was dimmed in February 1998 while she was pursuing her law degree. Sitting in a class at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Daniel began to experience what she thought were flu like symptoms but quickly her situation became far more serious.
At first, her doctors simply could not understand what was happening to Daniel’s body, so they turned to medical journals and other forms of research.
Eventually, she was diagnosed with streptococci shock syndrome, a bacterium that infiltrates the blood stream, releases poisonous toxins and shuts down your organs one by one.
Hope of a recovery was rapidly fading. Doctors told Daniel’s parents to prepare for the worst.
“My parents had recalled getting home after a long night, into the wee hours of the morning, and being told come right back now things have just gone haywire.
“They even went as far as to tell them, ‘When you get here, we can’t guarantee you that she will be here, but you need to come’.
“My parents said that they cried, but in the midst of that they knew who to call on and they reached out to God and told him that ‘we just can’t do this, we just can’t do this, we need You to go before us’.
“When they got to the hospital, one of the persons working on the case came up to them and said, ‘We don’t know the name of the person, but between calling you and your getting here, the strange presence of a man entered the room and all that was wrong started to go right. And my dad was able to say ‘we know His name, His name is Jesus and He is our friend and we had to call him before we got here; we asked Him to precede us’,” she recalled.
With the prayers of this nation and beyond, the devotion of her family, the skill of the doctors and nurses, and the grace of God, she held on.
She spent several weeks in Intensive Care Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital hooked up to a ventilator, having to be fed. She recalls that the fever in her body was so hot that it “baked the soles off her feet, and scorched her skin”. She was unable to speak.
“There was 18 reported cases around the world that came to the attention of the QEH at that time, and of those I was the only survivor. So we knew that there was more to my story and it went beyond the medical side. All around this country people, different banks and media houses stopped and prayed for me.
“Churches opened their doors in the middle of the day so that people could just go in and pray. I received letters from prisoners on death row that didn’t even know me, telling me I can’t die because I am one of their heroes, and they have been following my story since I have been going to school and singing. I have always been an inspiration to them and that if I die now they might not survive death row, and all of these things . . . .”
Thoughts of sounding her beautiful voice again were banished from her mind when she was informed that her vocal chords were paralysed. She was not very receptive to that news, which she found out accidentally.
“They had the tube for the oxygen down my throat; and I accidentally overheard a conversation one day; and they were saying, ‘Well, she is a singer; this tube is down her throat, this could affect her vocal cords’. And then all the machines started going crazy and then they realized that I could understand and that I could hear, even though I couldn’t speak. I heard that, I was like, ‘can’t sing? You kidding me?’ They apologized after that because they didn’t realize that I was still hearing.”
Finally, she was out of the woods and on the road to recovery. She remembers that drive as a tearful and emotional one, which she could not have completed if God was not in the passenger seat telling her what to do and how to do it.
“I had to learn to walk again and I had a therapist. I literally had to use a walker and learn how to put one foot in front of the other, when I was doing it a couple days ago so easily.
“I used to cry because I couldn’t come to grips with it. To brush my teeth was difficult; and so many other things that we take for granted I had to learn all over again,” said Daniel, in passionate tone.
After going through that humbling experience, Daniel recovered. She recovered and thrived. God gave her a second chance at life, and she took it.
At school, some of the people in her life thought that she would have gone into the area of politics and maybe even become the island’s first female Attorney General or even Prime Minister.
But her dream was always to become a lawyer, and not continuing her degree because she fell ill was not even a consideration.
In 1999, she recommenced her studies, graduating from the Faculty of Law in 2001 and being admitted to the Bar in 2003. In 2004 she married her soulmate in the wedding of her dreams, and in 2009, she was blessed with the miracle of becoming a mother, though doctors told her that she couldn’t have because of what her body had gone through.
“That was a real struggle and some doctors had written me off, and they said they didn’t think that this was going to happen naturally and that I might have to go another route. But again, my whole life I have been directed by God and that also became a matter of prayer. God led me to the right doctor at the right time. I had to go through the mental process of learning to let go.
“When I got the news that I was pregnant, it was a pleasant surprise to everybody. After all that hassle and hard work, when I got the news it was the same night that Barack Obama won the elections, and that was the day before my husband’s birthday.
“And I kept it until about 2 o’clock on November 6, and that was his birthday. We went to the doctor and we asked him when the baby was due and he said on July 6, which is my birthday. I smiled and I said God has a real sense of humour,” she said.
Because she answers to a much greater power than herself, Daniel’s approach to law for the past ten years has been unique.
She always prays about her matters, the attorney on the other side, the judge and all parties involved.
“I am also a certified mediator because I like peace. People might find it strange that I can marry the law with mediation, but it’s perfect because mediation is my character.
“I am always trying to get people to talk, engage and hear each other out, because sometimes when you stop and listen, you are amazed at what you hear and what is going on in the heart. Sometimes, there is no court that can give you that answer. So, I am able to marry mediation with the law and bring about peace between two parties where it is possible,” the attorney said.
Daniel also has a special place in her heart for women.
She feels uplifted when she sees women who are empowered, strong and able to stand on their own two feet. She is often called to minister locally and abroad at churches and at women’s conferences to share her inspiring story all the time.
“I am really disheartened by the number of women who are suffering in silence and who are enduring because they feel they have no choice. Sometimes I feel if I could just send out an SOS and just rake up all of them and put them somewhere I would do it.
“I can’t imagine living like that. My parents used to tell us educate yourself. My mother use to tell me, ‘Get something in your head before you get it between your legs. Empower yourself so that you can stand on your own two feet and give your life to Christ’.”
As for her voice, God restored it completely. The voice they said might barely speak again now soars in testimony of what she has overcome.
MYA DANIEL – 10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ME
1. I have been an attorney-at-law with my own practice for over ten years.
2. I am a certified professional mediator.
3. I’ve been married for almost ten years to my best friend.
4. I love to laugh, and I love to make others laugh.
5. If I didn’t do law, I would have done television broadcasting.
6. I love theatre arts, and enjoy doing musicals in which I can sing, dance and act.
7. I love to shop.
8. I am a former Miss Cave Hill Campus Queen.
9. During my secondary school life at Queen’s College, I was in the Barbados Cadet Corps and attained the rank of sergeant.
10. Before life became so hectic, my husband and I were avid latin and ballroom dance partners.
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