A call from family at work always makes me nervous. Rarely does anyone call with good news. We were almost finished for the day when I was called to the phone. “Come home now,” my beloved said firmly. Of course, I had questions.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, my heart racing already. “Listen to me,” he went on, “Don’t drive crazy. Just leave now and come straight home.” He hung up.
I grabbed my keys, trying not to cry and told my coworkers I had to leave.
I knew something awful had happened. My beloved had called me so he was probably OK. But he was not at the church and it was 5:30 on a Wednesday. He was always there at this time on Wednesday. It was bad, whatever it was.
My thoughts went to our kids. Our daughter lives in Lexington. She had a doctor’s appointment that day. Had she gotten a bad report? Our son was working in Pikeville. Had he been in an accident? My mind drifted to my sweet mother. Oh no! I thought, had my mother died? I set the cruise control on my Sonata. No time to get pulled over!
Trying not to let my imagination get away from me I prayed out loud. “Lord, there’s nothing we can’t get through together!” I repeated it several times. Driving on, I said Bible verses. Joshua 1:9 is one of my favorites, but Psalm 18 was spilling out, too. “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge…”
My beloved and son were waiting on the porch. There were immediate tears when I heard the news. My uncle had died suddenly. My Mom’s treasured little brother…. Our daughter, pulled in as we cried. We headed to Pond Creek.
Over the next few days so many memories came back. It’s one of the best and toughest parts when someone dies. A death sets you on a roller coaster of shock, sadness, numbness, anger and confusion. So many came to the memorial service, paid their respects and gave their condolences. We saw people we hadn’t seen in 20 years or more! We laughed, hugged and cried. (One of the many good reasons to be in the mountains!) We heard neat stories about Uncle Shelley and saw oodles of old and not so old pictures of different phases of his life. (The black and white ones of him with his young parents and my Mom in the 1940’s got me choked up.)
Uncle Shelley was very important to our family. I can remember him way back when I was five years old on Christmas Eve. My sister and I were having a hard time going to bed. Uncle Shelley knocked on our trailer door after our bedtime. We rushed to the door expecting a man in a red suit! “Girls, you better get in bed quick!” he exclaimed. “I just saw Santa and his sleigh over Piggly Wiggly!” We ran to bed not wanting to hold up his delivery of presents! Many years later, he stood in the gap during a dangerous time in our family’s lives. He was a crucial part of our safety and survival! But then life happened. I grew up, had a family, our kids grew, my beloved entered fulltime ministry, we moved and time passed. We saw this important man in our family only a few times a year at best. Today my heart is heavy with regret. Regret for all the lost moments-the moments I could have had.
Everyone is busy; we say it all the time. Ballgames, dance, and a dozen other things have everyone in a rush to get somewhere! But when time has passed and we look back, will we think we made the best choices? Were we so busy doing stuff that we missed some really important parts of life? That’s how I’m feeling! After someone dies, there are no more chances to stop by, reminisce, grill out or play cards.
I think of Mary and Martha in the Bible. They were sisters and both loved Jesus very much. During one visit, Mary sat at His feet hanging on every word while Martha hustled all over the kitchen fussing about working alone. Martha had an important job, entertaining/feeding the Savior of the world and His disciples. Who wouldn’t have felt the pressure?! But Mary had chosen the most important thing…spending time with Jesus. After He died a short time later, what do you think Martha thought of? I wonder if she wished she’d taken more time with her guest than fussing over Him. When He arose on that first Easter they must have been thrilled that they would have more time with Him!
This week our family made a pact. We will redeem the time while we can. We won’t let opportunities to get together pass us by any longer. Life is too short, we have learned, to put it off.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.