"It was a dark and stormy night."
Add in an already emotionally fragile state, going west when she should have gone east (darn that mapquest anyway!), difficulty seeing through the pouring rain, and problems with her cell phone...can we say MELTDOWN?!
Not just on the daughter's part (who shall be referred to as "D" from here on out for the sake of brevity) either. This mom was having a hard time, too. Here we are in Orlando and she's in northern Michigan. Where it's dark and rainy and scary to be lost, and not too many inhabitants on the beaten path to stop and ask for help. No offense, northern Michiganders but you gotta admit, not much happenin' up there at any given time, but especially not at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night.
The D was maid of honor in a wedding up there on Sunday afternoon and she wasn't able to head out until after 9 p.m. which was already too late to get to the home of family friends in southern Michigan at a decent hour. She was emotionally and physically exhausted, NOT a good combination when starting out on a close to five hour drive by herself.
The sequence of events went something like this:
10:50 p.m. D calls in tears; she's clearly lost and pretty sure she's been going the wrong direction for almost two hours. The hubbs and I confer and tell her that we'd like her to find a hotel and we'll pay for the room but we want her to stop and get some rest. She's obviously in no condition to drive! Lady at the gas station says there's a Best Western nearby.
11:20 p.m. D calls, still in tears. She can't find the Best Western. The hubbs is googling away on the internet as I talk to D but before he can explain the B.W. is NORTH and she's driving SOUTH, our call is disconnected. We keep trying to call back but it goes straight to voice mail.
11:40 p.m. D calls, great gulping sobs at this point. Her phone had died! No car charger. She kept driving until she got to the next gas station where she's gone inside and plugged her phone in to call us. The lady at this gas station says there's a hotel nearby. Yeah, heard that one before. But the hubbs is actually looking at that one on the internet right then! So while I pray with D, he calls the hotel. Yes they have a room!
It's a small mom-and-pop operation. From the pictures on the internet, the kind of place I remember staying when we'd go on vacation in the 60s. The lady is very nice, especially when she hears the story. So we tell D to get on over there, it's very close, and get settled in and call us back.
11:50 Final call of the night from D. Unable to stop crying but in her room at last. We suggest a hot bath (she's soaking wet from the rain) and a long night's sleep. We tell her "Do NOT set your alarm! Sleep until you wake up!" Hopefully she'll listen.
Midnight we toddle off to bed, thankful for how God worked everything out in a way that made us as parents feel much comforted!
I've had several conversations with cousin Beth this week where she's mentioned how thankful she is for the support group she has during this time. Right here she's got her two sons and their wives, her co-workers at Pioneers and her church family at Northland. Farther afield she has her mom and dad, brother and sister, lots of cousins, dear friends around the world... I'm not exaggerating when I tell you Beth received literally HUNDREDS of e-mails and cards following Jim's death. From.Around.The.World. Everyone who's ever known Jim and Beth loved them, and took the time to let her know they were thinking of her and praying for her. What a blessing!
And she was sharing about a friend of hers. "Ann" (not her real name) is in her early 60s and is estranged from her family, with little or no contact with them, and she has few friends. It's a struggle financially, since she's unable to find steady work of any kind. Not being a believer means she has no church family.
Beth said that even with all she's going through now she knows she has so much more than Ann does. Jim died but she has the God Of All Comfort along with all these people who care about her.
And so does our daughter. She can rest in the knowledge that as a child of God she is loved and He will care for her. He has given her a large, extended support network. And we can take comfort in knowing that even though we're going far, far away, God has placed others in her life that she can call on in emergencies. Her brother, her uncles, many from our home church as well as the church she's attending now.
Can you imagine being all alone? To have no one to fall back on? Beth is concerned for Ann, primarily that she come to know Jesus. Because really, without Him there is no hope. With Him comes the hope of heaven and eternal life, and the Great.Big.Family.Of.God. -- people who will love you and help you no matter what. When your husband dies unexpectedly. When you're lost on a dark and stormy night. Thank you Jesus!