I was upstairs on the phone talking with the church clerk, when I heard the front door open and Daniel screaming, “Mom!” I heard the words, “hit” and “truck.” Panic washed over me. Had Joshua been hit by a truck? How badly was he hurt? Was he even alive?
I rushed downstairs; my phone conversation was completely forgotten. They were old enough to know not to follow the ball into the street. We live out in the country where there isn’t much traffic. We have five acres, why were they playing so close to the road? Why did I let them play outside?
Missy, our five year old, was sobbing in the living room. Daniel was headed back outside. I rushed out into the front yard where the boys had been kicking their soccer ball. I saw both boys standing by the road where their dog lay dead. I felt overwhelming relief and sorrow. The story began to unfold. The boys had been playing ball in the front yard and the dogs had been with them. When the FedEx truck came, both dogs ran out to chase it. Our border collie raced beside the truck. But Sondra, the shepherd mix, ran out in front of it. The boys were right there. They saw the driver speed up rather than slow down. In horror, they watched him run over their beloved pet. The driver never stopped. He never said he was sorry. Nothing.
I’m just a mom now, but in a former life (pre-mom), I spent two and a half years studying behavioral science at Andrews University. I learned about the stages of grief. In my text book, they had seemed nice and neat and orderly. This was not. It was like pouring everyone’s emotions into a blender--pain, sorrow, anger, confusion. He didn’t even stop! He didn’t say he was sorry… saying he was sorry somehow would have made it better… Mom, he sped up!... She stood up, Mom, after she was hit, she stood up, her intestines fell out… Mom, she started to eat them… then she fell over and died… I wanted to vomit.
I suddenly remembered the church clerk. I had told her I had to go and just hung up. Had she heard the screams too? We all went inside and called her back. She and her husband were retired missionaries. They offered to come over and get the body. They came and took Sondra away. It was nice that we didn’t have to deal with burying her. It was nice that her body didn’t just stay in the road until my husband came home from work. All that was left was the dark stain on the road in front of our house.
It was two or three o’clock before anyone even thought of lunch. Nothing was prepared. I took the kids to a small Mexican restaurant we occasionally went to. It was fairly close to our house and they didn’t use lard in their beans. It is amazing that food is such a comfort.
After the meal, I went up to the cashier to pay. As I was handing him my VISA debit card, he reminded me that they didn’t take credit cards, only cash or checks, neither of which I had with me. I was going to have to go home and get the check book. The boys asked if they could please stay home. I agreed as long as they promised to stay inside with the doors locked.
Missy and I returned to the restaurant. I paid, and left them a good tip, as well as a Final Events DVD. I wasn’t really ready to go home. Somehow it seemed that if I wasn’t at home I could forget the pain and have everything be normal. We walked across the empty parking lot to a small grocery story. We wandered aimlessly down the aisles, without any of the usual chatter. Our shopping cart had been blocking the aisle near the bread for a long time before I noticed the old man behind us. I was embarrassed. How long had he been waiting? He too had only a handful of items in his cart. I moved my cart and apologized for being so unobservant.
Instead of turning back to the bread, I whispered to Melissa to tell him about what happened. She poured out her heart to this stranger. When she had finished, he just said, “I know just how you feel, sweetheart, I just buried my wife Tuesday.” For those few moments, while this old man and little girl comforted each other, the grocery store faded from view. I felt the distinct impression that we were standing on holy ground.
Then it was gone. We gave him a little pamphlet about the second coming of Jesus, and went our separate ways. It was as if a curtain had been drawn back for just a moment and we got a tiny glimpse of something we couldn’t comprehend going on behind the scenes. Our hearts had been flooded with peace and our focus had been drawn from the temporal to the eternal. We talked about heaven on the way home. We wondered about the old man and our pamphlet. Would we get to spend eternity with him? Before we got home, Missy said, “It’s okay now, Mom.” And it was.