I met a sweet, sorrowful woman yesterday.
Her name is Valerie, and I happened upon her as headed up to Kindra's to pick up some fencing for our new goats. Mark was home early again to work on the pen, and the kids and I were just heading up quick after leaving the library, making better time than I expected.
Valerie had a flat tire, which I didn't know until after I had stopped just ahead of her truck to see what kind of help she needed. I pulled over as far as I could on the dangerous highway curve, and walked back to talk with her. It was more than I expected, more than I would have felt prepared for.
"I have a flat tire," she wailed. "My husband just died Saturday, and I don't know how to change a flat tire!" She fell into my arms, sobbing, and I cried right along with her.
I hugged her until she had composed herself, traffic flying by us on the highway. She explained that she was on the way to the airport, and that she had friends meeting her in Girdwood to drive her the rest of the way. But in her deep anguish, where even taking a step or making a phone call is too much to bear, she was beyond coping with being stranded on the highway.
"...Mourn with those who mourn."
I assured that we could get her back on the road, turned and went back to where I had cell service so that I could call Mark to come change her tire, and then went back to wait with her. By the time I got there (after a potty stop for Anna), two gentlemen had stopped and had her tire nearly finished.
While she waited, she told me her story.
They had been vacationing here...driven their RV up for Florida. They had taken the ferry to Kodiak Island, and on the trip back to Seward, he dropped dead from a heart attack. So young. So sudden. She had to have been just in her 50's. And now she was trying to obtain a death certificate and arrange for his body to be flown home.
There are no words to describe what emotions coursed through me as I watched her struggle to manage her sorrow with her need to "keep it together" just to get herself home. It was exquisitely painful. I told her that I was a Christian, and would she mind if I prayed for her? She clung to me once again as I cried out to God on her behalf, begging Him to make Himself real and known to her, to be her great Comforter and Refuge.
We exchanged phone numbers, I jotted down her address, and then followed her in her truck on my way towards Kindra's. Once more she stopped. She had been juggling both her phone and her husband's, and now she couldn't find his. She searched. I prayed. She cried. And then she found it! "Thank you, Jesus!" She was on her way.
I called her anxious friend again, who would be meeting her, to let them know she had indeed left and at what time to expect her.
You would think that would be the end. A chance encounter, a complete coincidence. Moving on.
But it isn't. My God is not a God of coincidences. He's a God of divine appointments. And I learned at least as much from Valerie as she gained in help from me. You just never know. Be at peace with your loved ones. Make the most of every opportunity. Be ready.