I felt their questioning stares in the depths of my soul. “Stop looking at me,” is what I wanted to shout, but that would have been rude. My mom taught me better, and I couldn’t disappoint her. After all, she may have heard me as she lay in her casket a short distance away. So I kept silent, wishing I could fade into my surroundings. The floor. Walls. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to be invisible.
My mind replayed everything leading up to this moment. The cancer diagnosis. The surgery. The remission and the relapse. I thought back to a couple days ago – the day she died.
I came home from school like any other day. However, when I approached the house, my neighbor, Elaine, was on the front porch. She said I couldn’t go inside right then, rather I should go ride my bike. So, that’s what I did. I rode off on my Huffy bike to find Ronnie, my friend Elaine’s son. Ronnie is a couple years younger, but that didn’t matter. He was a great dare devil friend.
One thing we loved to do was build ramps and jump our bikes. Our favorite ramp was in Ronnie’s back yard. He had a nice downward slope from the back of his property toward the house. At the bottom of the hill was a small ditch. On the other side of the ditch . . . a sand pit. Perfect for a ramp.
We didn’t didn’t go jump the ramp this day, however. I wanted to be near the house. I sensed something was wrong. Instead, we rode back and forth down the street on the side of my house. From this vantage point, I could see the front and back.
Within a few minutes, a long, white wagon-style car entered the long gravel drive. On the back, read, “Coroner.” Ronnie and I continued riding as I kept a watchful eye up the hill where my house sat.
I’m not certain how many moments passed. It felt like an eternity. Finally, I heard my dad calling me. He was standing on the back patio. I dropped my bike at the edge of the property, cut through the bushes and made my way up the inclining yard. I knew before I got there what had happened. He broke down as he told me my mom had died. A hug followed. I didn’t cry, though. I’m not sure why. Maybe, I was in shock. Maybe, it didn’t seem real.
He asked me if I wanted to see her. He led me into the dining room of the house through the back door. As I neared the living room, I knew she must be on the couch. From my place in the dining room, I could only see the back of the couch. A line of people stood on the other side of the couch facing it. I surveyed the scene and saw Ron and Elaine Bailie. Wait! There was their fourteen-year-old daughter, Rhonda. Why was she inside? She was a year older than me, but still a kid, too. I quickly dismissed the question from my mind.
I moved closer and made my way around the end of the couch until I could see her. There she lay. Still. The weight of the moment hit me, and I went straight to Rhonda’s arms in tears. I hugged her for dear life. I stared over at my mother, who looked so peaceful . . . like she was only sleeping.
The sound of mutterings across the room ended my day dreaming. My thoughts shifted from seeing her dead body to the present moment and the watchful eyes on me. I looked toward the entrance of the ballroom and saw three of my school friends. My heart rebounded at the sight. I quickly made my way over to them. After greetings and hugs, I led them down the hall to the women’s restroom. I couldn’t wait to show them my discovery.
As we crossed the threshold, I could hear their gasps. My reaction had been exactly the same. The walls of the vestibule were lined with ornate furnishings – chairs, a chaise lounge. Burgundy and gold tones added to the richness of the decor. “Why would anyone have furniture in a bathroom?” I thought to myself. None of us had ever seen anything like it.
After testing every chair for comfort, we proceeded to the sink area. Each faucet was gold. The mirrors were detailed in gold, as well. I couldn’t believe it. This bathroom had three rooms in all: one for sitting, one for washing your hands, and one for – well – taking care of business. We bounced back and forth between all the rooms as we chatted away as young girls can do.
I’m not certain how long we stayed; only that it was long enough for the masses to have left. When I emerged from that place, it felt okay. Manageable. Bearable.
This story isn’t one of miraculous power. There was no supernatural healing. No, this story is quiet and peaceful. It’s an illustration of how God wrapped His loving arms around one of His brokenhearted children and comforted them in a time of their need.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18
He looked down from heaven and saw me struggling under the weight of grief. So, He sent comforters in the form of friends; not just one time over those days, but several times. I’m glad God sometimes does big and powerful things. Miraculous things. I’m most grateful, though, for the times He has shown me His love through little personal things, like giving me the gift of friends.