Thursday, January 24, 2013

Around and in front of me

8:37 p.m. Today's project was to tell my high school English teacher, Terry Alexandris --or "Mrs. A.," as I call her--about Steve's death. It  wasn't very cheerful news for her 86th birthday. I do love that lady! Let's face it, at 61, it's pretty neat to be called "baby girl."

I was in Redlands, as I often am, to visit with my daughter Heidi before attending my weekly Mary Kay meeting. Heidi wouldn't be home until 4:00, so I pulled into a gas station to fill up, and called Mrs. A. Our conversation continued, hands-free, past my alma mater Redlands High, and continued in the parking lot of a 7-11. She just could not believe Steve's dying at the young age of 57, especially since she last saw Steve dressed to kill for my 40th class reunion dinner at the Redlands Country Club in 2009. We'd stopped by to visit with her before she actually drove ahead of us to help us find our destination. Those streets on the elegant south side of Redlands get pretty twisty-turny!  God used her to guide us on an unfamiliar path, in a neighborhood forgotten since  my teens. The Lord is always with His children. Psalm 31:3 praises and petitions Him:

For You are my rock and my
Therefore, for Your name's sake,
Lead me and guide me. 

The last time Mrs. A and I visited, she'd enjoyed a facial in her home and then treated me to dinner at Panera Bread. Steve was already living at Raincross by then, walking about but not personally functioning without 24-hour help. I had told her about the drastically lower life expectancy Steve had, and she was barely able to take it in. A long-time widow herself, Mrs. A. still describes her George's death in 1977--in perfect health, playing tennis, when he suddenly dropped dead. She had nightmares for a very long time, but God did finally heal her and give her peace.

One question Mrs. A kept repeating  was, "Do you have any of your chidren nearby?" And I told her that my daughters and their husbands, and their in-laws. fine people who know the Lord and who all live in Riverside, are always there for me. Both of my girls' fathers-in-law were at the house today, working upstairs. I do have so much family around me, a true gift from God! And my sons who live in other areas help me and encourage me as much as possible whenever they can, and their wives are just great. As for extended family on both sides, they care and show it so much! My nephew Brady called me this evening, just to see how I'm doing. He is such a blessing to me, with a heart full of the Lord Jesus.

And that doesn't even take into account my friends at church and supporters in the community--I have heard from many, many of them, so loyal and here for me in our difficult days. From the pace of cards that still arrive, a few a day, I sense that the news of Steve's death is moving through Riverside, no obituary needed. Neighbors and former school district colleagues are greeting me with condolences in the usual places where I shop or spend time. It's hard, having to explain the condition Steve was in, how desperately ill he was. Ready or not, I'm called to share with them the way he trusted God with his life, and how he prevented any life-extending measures from being taken, because he was ready to cast off his ragged earthly tabernacle (2 Corinthians 5:1, 4) and begin his real life, "the life hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). People are devastated at first, but go away comforted, and, I pray, convinced that Jesus is real, Jesus saves, and there is a heaven that is real, a destination for those who trust the keeping of their souls to Jesus for eternity.

It's funny how my friend and prayer partner Monica was prophetic about what God would call me to do, the same thing I'd done for her: comfort others with the comfort I myself have been comforted with. (II Corinthians 1:4)

In all of these things, God has been my guide. Psalm 48:14 declares that we can trust our Heavenly Father:

For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
Even unto death.

1 comment:

  1. I can't keep up with all the details in your life, nor do I try to, but do have questions for you when you are ready. I am wanting to interview you about the journey with Steve as I face that with my husband.

    Hugs and prayers,