Today is the second story, the one that makes yesterday’s post complete in expression of the beauty of blessings. If you didn’t read yesterday’s, you kind of have to read it now. Today’s won’t make as much sense without it.
Fast forward one year. It is Thanksgiving Day, again. We are planning the 500 mile trek home again. Our arm is better. We are playing more carefully, now. We are so totally ready, again.
But a lot has happened in another family we know. The family that opened its home to us last year, when we were sort of stranded, in a medical way of speaking, had lost its only source of income. The dad–we’ll call him Clarence–had been jobless for weeks, had found new employment several hours away and had moved his entire family there to be with him. Things were looking rather good for them and we rejoiced that after such a long trial, these kind people had found some relief from their troubles.
Clarence also had medical insurance at this new job and needed elective surgery. He chose the weekend of Thanksgiving for it because he had days off and so did his parents; they could all be together.
We visited with them over the phone a time or two before the surgery. He felt a bit uneasy, as anyone would before surgery, and Clarence and my husband were pretty good friends. Clarence would call my husband his best friend, but my husband is shy of being called by superlatives.
I think it was the Wednesday. You know–THE Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We were readying to go, I know that for sure. Then the call came. Clarence’s wife wanted prayer for his surgery. I told her of course we were praying. She said that no, she meant really, really pray, that something was not going right. She began to cry. I listened. My horror grew as I realized the medical terms she was quoting from the doctors were the warm-up words they use to prepare the family for death of the patient. I think she wanted me to help her accept this might be happening. I don’t remember what I said, but I did not want to commit myself to anything quotable until I had spoken with my husband.
I called my husband and told him what I thought. It did not register with him. He came home as early as he thought appropriate, and by then I had spoken several more times with Clarence’s wife and when my husband walked in the door I told him, “I think Clarence is dead.”
The grief that washed over him made me sorry I had to tell him.
He called the wife and spoke with her a bit. When he hung up, he said he was going immediately. He took our older son, Clarence’s older son’s best friend. The two of them stayed up all night waiting for the doctors to admit the truth: Clarence had suffered from a fatal reaction to the anesthesia. He had gone out of this life saying to his wife, “Something’s not right. Something’s not right. Tell them! Something’s not right.” She heard these, his last words, I am sure, forever, although that was maybe 12 or 15 years ago and she is happily remarried now.
But my husband and my son were there. They were able to help Clarence’s family assimilate the truth and deal with the aftermath. This kind family who had opened their home to us during the previous Thanksgiving, now missing one member, were the needy ones. And although our plans were again foiled by the events around us, by troubles and tragedies around us, there was the blessing: We could be there for them.
And we realized: That Thanksgiving Dinner we had shared the year before was the last event, ever, that we shared with him before he moved his family and then died. If we had not had reason to stay home, we so would have missed that one last dinner.
And that was the 8th blessing.
And we know that in all things, God works for good with those who love Him . . . Romans 8:28