“Lower your expectations of earth. This isn’t Heaven, so don’t expect it to be.” ~Max Lucado
I could’ve been carted off to jail. There is always a first time, and this was my debut as a criminal or, at the very least, a suspect. It was just a teeny, tiny infraction after all. Haven’t you driven away from the gas station without paying for a tank of gas? No? Oh, dear. Then I’m about to come clean all by myself.
It happened a number of years ago. I readily admit that I had no excuse. It was a normal day like any other. I could have been distracted, but I wasn’t hurrying around like a frazzled chicken. I needed gas, so I stopped at a local gas station on my way home from work. I swiped my card, took out the hose, and proceeded to fill the gas tank. When it was full, I returned the hose to its place. I tightened the gas cap, got in my car, and nonchalantly drove away . . . apparently without paying. That’s their story.
As far as I knew, I had behaved like a model citizen. It was the “driving away without paying” part that seemed to be the problem. I thought I had paid, so I felt not the slightest flicker of guilt as I pulled out into traffic and headed toward home.
A couple of days later, the phone rang. My unsuspecting hubby answered it with the usual greeting.
A booming baritone voice on the other end of the line asked, “Is this Mr. Still?”
“Yes, sir,” responded my innocent better half.
“This is Sergeant So-and-So calling from your friendly neighborhood precinct. Sir, do you drive a blue Toyota?”
“No, sir, but the wife does,” he answered. (Why was he so quick to throw me under the bus?)
“Did she buy gas a couple of days ago?” the booming voice asked. (Why did he ask when he already knew the answer?)
“She could have,” hubby responded coolly (although his blood pressure was probably climbing), “but I can’t say for sure.”
“Well, sir, we have a record of a car matching the description of yours and with this license plate number. Do you recognize the number I just gave you?”
“Yes, sir,” answered hubby . . . (probably blowing steam by now . . . and already picturing his wife behind bars).
“Well, sir, your wife apparently drove away without paying for a tank of gasoline. Can you go to the gas station and take care of the bill?” asked the booming Sergeant.
“Yes, sir. I will go right away.”
Funny how things happen. Still clueless I was doing my thing without the slightest inkling that my husband was driving up town to take care of my delinquency and keep me out of jail. (He was, however, eager to point out my transgression when he got home that evening.)
I can report that I learned a lifelong lesson that day. Ever since my narrow escape from being fingerprinted, I make sure to tear off my receipt, which is my proof of payment. Funny thing . . . I don’t remember seeing a receipt that day. (That’s my story . . . and I’m sticking to it.)
Sometimes I am distracted, even oblivious to what is going on around me. How about you? You can nod, and no one will know. I think I have always been easily distracted, but so much more so after losing my son to suicide. I had no excuse when this story took place because it occurred years earlier. If it had happened after his death, no telling what serious trouble I could have brought down upon myself.
After my son died, I was a basket case. I was lethargic, foggy-headed, and confused. I had a hard time putting a complete sentence together, making decisions, or even carrying on a simple conversation. During the week following my son’s death, a visitor, I suppose trying to make polite conversation in an attempt to distract me, asked me what crafts I had been working on lately. I remember thinking, crafts . . . do I know that word?
I remember that all types of music set me off, making the tears flow. Time felt like it stood still or, at the very least, crept along at a snail’s pace. I had no sense of what I should be doing. I was not working at the time, so I did not have a place to go where I could lose myself in my work for most of the day. To put it mildly, I was a mess. Was it just me or did craziness descended upon you, too?
The absence of one we loved more than life itself, is keenly felt in every cell of our being. How does one deal with a broken heart? How does one go forward without all of our children accounted for? There is at least one child that we can no longer safely “tuck in” for the night, whether he lived at home or not. Just knowing that precious one is no longer with us leaves a deep ache in the heart that is beyond reach, and it cannot be soothed away.
I have no easy solutions and no pat answers, but I do know that we eventually begin to breathe again . . . to become aware of our surroundings again . . . to move slowly forward as the wind billows softly beneath our gossamer wings. Is this wind something for which to be thankful? Is it possible that there is someone surrounding and guarding us? Is it possible that one’s higher power supplies the poof of air to move us ever so gently forward? For me, it is the God of heaven, who provides an unlimited supply of comfort for each breathing moment.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
Scripture from the New International Version (NIV)