Sometimes I actually think . I like to plan and compare and problem solve. Sometimes I think my way to an answer.
Sometimes I make choices based solely on my gut whether the choice seems logical or not. I feel my way to an answer (I use this method more often than thinking!).
Then there was that time when the most tragic and shocking thing happened to me–that time, early one morning, when my husband died in our bed. I lost my capacity to think or feel. I couldn’t make decisions. And in that moment…Something else took over: Something Amazing.
I have friends who are good listeners…other friends who are practical…still others who are great for some laughs. Most of the time I can know which kind of friend I need at which time. In my widow’s daze, however, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
But Something did it for me.
Who would have known five years ago, when Joe and I bought our little farm, that the spot’s best quality was hidden within the nondescript house next door? There is no way we could have chosen the right neighbors for that tragic night: neighbors my son would wake by pounding on the door; neighbors who would come over and hug me as the EMT’s wheeled my husband’s lifeless body out the door; neighbors who would stand by me as those same EMT’s performed their required duties on that shell in the back of the ambulance; the neighbor who would stay with my children as his wife took me to the hospital….to hear the news I already knew was coming.
Once at the hospital, I survived that nightmarish moment when the doctor admitted that Joe was dead because of the person Something sent. I turned around and looked down the hallway….and saw my Daddy. He was walking up just at that moment. He held me as I fell to pieces…feeling the world I knew falling away beneath my feet.
I arrived home to find my Mom sitting on the couch with my children. Oh, how they needed their Grandma right then–a familiar and steadying presence. I took each child to a private spot–held each little body in my arms–and whispered the news.
I then deposited them back to the couch, under their Grandma’s protective arms, and grabbed the phone. I croaked the news to my friend Shelley…I’m not even sure why she is the one I called…but Something new she was the right one. She held me up…strong and sure and compassionate. She washed the bedding that tormented me–the bedding where Joe had died. She remained there until my sister Starla arrived.
Starla was the right one for those first few days. Since we talk every week and I told her Joe’s trials…Joe’s dreams…Joe’s joys, she really knew my introverted husband (if mostly through my eyes) and I felt comfort that she had that foundation. And she knows me. She knows how I process things. She talked me through those horrible first days and stayed up through the nights when I was terrified of sleep.
The shock wore off but the mourning had just begun when sister Starla handed me over to sister Willa. They are such different sisters! And how could one be right for the first few days and the other be so right for the next few days? Something knew better than I. Willa fed me. And cried with me. And cleaned my bathrooms. She sat with me and let me be exhausted.
And then it was Kyle’s turn. Kyle is my nephew who lives in Florida and works as a chemist for NASA. He called and said, “Aunt Kirsten, I’m using my week off to help you.” I remember thinking, “How odd? How will he help me?” but as soon as he walked in my door, I knew. Kyle is the quiet, comforting, practical man who never interferes but always offers just the right amount of interaction. He fixed my furnace, hauled off the metal trash, set up things for the memorial service, etc. etc. etc., but the one thing he did that no one else could do, was he talked to me like Joe talked to me. Joe spoke of deep spiritual and meaningful things in scientific terms. Joe thought big. And that is how Kyle thinks and talks. And that gaping hole…the need for that kind of thought and talk…was so huge and sore. He filled it up and added salve.
Letting Kyle go was so hard for me, but niece Andrea was there with waiting arms. Andrea is a kindergarten teacher in China and she bought a ticket and flew to me…with no clue of how she would help me. I didn’t know either. But Something knew. I wanted to go back to my part-time teaching job…I wanted to see those little faces…but I was shocked to find I was too exhausted to teach. I just. couldn’t. do. it. Usually I could rely on my co-teacher to pull me through, but that week she was ill and I had the class to myself. Andrea stepped up. Andrea taught with me and she was fabulous. We were an amazing teaching team. She was just what I needed.
And so it continues–like a symphony. Even now…almost a month later…my thinking and intuition are not up to par. I’m still not able to know what I need. But Something does. I look back over this parade of unlikely angels, and know that Something will send me who I need, when I need them. And, for that, I am thankful.