HUBBARD - Linda Clark said she feels blessed to be able to kiss her husband and children every day.
"We take so many things for granted," she said. "I do not want to do that anymore."
Clark, a greeter at Sharon Regional Hospital, Sharon, Pa., was stabbed in the neck on Nov. 10 by a man enraged because he couldn't obtain the drugs he wanted. Justin Michael Delfratte, 785 Crestview Drive, Sharps-ville, Pa., used a 4-inch knife to slice several major arteries in Clark's neck in the attack at the hospital, police reports state.
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
Bill Clipse, left, president of Home Builders and Remodelers Association of the Valley, and James Yohman, a laborer with ARA Home Remodeling LLC, place final boards in the ground floor level of a two-story deck behind the home of Daniel and Linda Clark.
"I've been told that if I had not been where I was, I probably would not have survived," Clark said. "Even if I would have been in the parking lot, I might not have survived."
She was conscious throughout the attack.
"There was so much blood pouring on the floor," Clark said. "I believe I am here today through divine intervention. I saw angels. God wanted me to survive for a reason."
Clark said she told those who worked on her that they had to save her because she had to be here for her children.
Several surgeries later, Clark, 57, is going through a slow and often painful recovery. She has limited use of her left arm and must go through therapy every day.
An artist, Clark has created paintings and murals for people and organizations throughout the region. Immediately after the attack, Clark worried whether she will be able to continue with her art.
"It has been my faith in God, in my family, and my art that has helped to get me through this time," she said.
Clark has been brought to tears by the generosity of members of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of the Valley, who are donating money, materials and time to complete a two-story deck in her family's back yard.
Clark's husband, Daniel, began working on the deck project several years ago, but was unable to complete it. The HBA decided to do finish the deck for the Clark family as one of its annual community projects in 2014.
"This was an easy choice of a project for us," Bill Clipse, president of the HBA, said Tuesday afternoon as he afixed the deck's ground level floors. "Linda has been a longtime friend of the HBA. She has done portraits of the last six to eight presidents of the HBA that have been hung in our offices."
Clark also has done paintings for the HBA's Parade of Home shows.
It was because of the HBA's effort to commission Clark for Clipse's painting in December that they learned she was involved in the stabbing.
The HBA businesses involved in the project include Meander Homes, ARA Home Remodeling LLC, Carter Lumber, and Banner Supply. Lowe's is also supplying some materials.
"We're at awe that people would do this," Daniel Clark said. "People have been supportive of us since this happened. We've received so many calls and offers of support from people we've known and have not seen in a long time and people we've never met."
Daniel Clark and their son, Nathan, were on the phone with Linda Clark when she was attacked.
"I heard her scream and the phone fall on the ground," Daniel Clark said.
When he called the hospital to find out what happened, the person he spoke to said someone had been attacked, but said it was not his wife. It was not until he and their son arrived at the hospital that he learned what really happened.
"There was still blood on the floor," he said.
Although a religious man, Daniel Clark has not reached a stage of forgiveness for the man who attacked his wife. He does not know if he will ever get to that stage.
"This was not normal behavior," he said. "No normal person would have done anything like this."
He said he hopes that Delfratte remains in jail for a very long time.
While acknowledging his wife's recovery has been slow, Daniel Clark has been amazed by his wife's strength and perseverance through this ordeal.
"She is the most optimistic person I know," he said. "I believe our family, including Nathan and our daughter, Sarah, will come out of this mentally unscathed."
Although she only has the use of one arm, Clark has begun painting again.
"It is frustrating," she said. "Although I am right-handed, I use both hands when painting. Everything is so much slower."
She described that even holding a newspaper is difficult, because most people use two hands to hold it.
Clark said doctors told her that it could take more than a year for her arm to recover. They took arteries from her leg and transplant them to her neck.
"I'm hoping for a full recovery of my arm," she said. "I hope to be able to do murals again. That's impossible right now because you use both arms to climb ladders.
"Even if my arm does not fully recover, I am grateful because I'm still alive," she said. " I have the love of my family."
Clark immediate plans are to enjoy the deck that's being donated to her family and to make plans for her daughter's graduation.