There is nothing in the world that can compare to losing the one you had planned to spend your life with. I met Louie when I moved to the mission to teach. I prayed for him for five years before he gave his heart to the Lord. The devastation when he died was indescribable. The rest of my life was like a long dark tunnel with heaven at the end. And for a short time after his death, the thought of being with Louie again superseded even the aspect of meeting Jesus face to face.
I thank the Lord for parents who raised me to know that truly,” All things do work together for those who love the Lord” I didn’t know how, but I knew in the deepest part of my being that it was true. Had it not been for that assurance I really don’t know what I would have done. From the time I walked into that hospital room and found his body until we returned from burying him in New Mexico I only have spots of memory. It has been that way since he died and the blanks are still there to this day.
I remember telling Notah that his daddy had died. He cried very hard at first, but I talked to him about how our body was just like a paper cup with soda in it. We keep the glass because it holds the soda, but when the soda is gone we no longer need the cup. I told him it was just like that with his daddy. The part of him that we loved and played with had been taken to heaven with the Lord and we no longer needed the body, even though it reminded us of him. He seemed to comprehend that and then went to play with Matthew. Notah was four.
Rachael, even at two, knew what dying was but she was really too young to comprehend the entirety of it. When I told her Daddy had gone to be with the Lord, she only asked if he was coming back. I told her no, he had to stay with God, but we could go see him someday. She accepted that absolutely.
It wasn’t that easy for me. I remember lying on the bed for long periods of time. Sandy Radcliffe came and stayed with us. I don’t know what she did with her kids. I don’t know who cooked for her husband. I don’t even remember calling her. All I know is she was there. I suppose she fed my kids and gave them baths and watched them play for those first few days. I don’t even remember going out of my bedroom. I don’t think I ate because I remember her coming in to where I was lying and trying to get me to eat a dish of jello. I said I wasn’t hungry, but she set the dish on my bedside table and said for me to eat some that I needed to put something in my stomach.
I guess I didn’t because later I woke up enough to realize she had taken Louie’s wallet out of my hand and laid it on the table. Then she took the jello away.
I can’t tell you the hours I spent in prayer. But sometime during those first few days the Lord put a huge comforter over my heart. You know how it feels to snuggle up under ne of those big feathery comforters? That’s what the Lord did to my broken heart. He covered it all over and snuggled it close around me and the pain was alleviated. How did He do that?
I think the first night Sandy put Notah and Rachael to bed in their room, but as soon as every thing was quiet, two little sets of feet came in to me. They climbed up in the bed and we said prayers the way we always had with Louie, but this time they stayed with me. We all slept in the big bed for the next two years. Their presence comforted me and being there in the big bed gave them a feeling of security and continuity. Some things remained the same. We had always snuggled up as a family and had stories and prayed and sometimes fell asleep. Louie would carry them to their own beds, but I just left them there.
And sometimes, late at night, with my kids sleeping beside me, the Lord would lift just the corner of that big comforter over my heart and show me what it would be like if He weren’t there. Oh the indescribable billows of darkness and despair and worry and pain. Then His Hands would tuck the comforter of His Love back closely and I knew what He was doing for me.
Oh I thank Him today and every day.