In one of our weekly phone conversations, my mother-in-law sheepishly asked, “What’s happening for Thanksgiving?”
Before answering I thought about the system Bruce and I had established years before. We typically spend odd-numbered years with the Van Hine extended family, and even numbered years with the Clarks.
2001 was an odd year.
“It’s a Van Hine year. We were planning on coming to you.”
My mother-in-law definitely had the gift of hospitality. She was a wonderful cook and hostess, and she had the amazing ability of finding those who needed a place to celebrate. Her table on holidays and many Sundays was surrounded by family, friends, and friends of friends.
I worried that there might be a houseful of people for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure if I was up for that. But thankfully, she only had invited three of her lady friends. And for some reason (that I can’t even articulate) they reminded me of the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty—Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Keeping that image in my head all day brought a smile to my face.
That evening I found a quiet place and moment for myself and wrote a letter to Bruce.
My dearest Bruce,
If anyone would have told me that by Thanksgiving, I would have been a widow for 10 weeks I wouldn’t have believed them. You have been with the Lord since September 11. It seems like an eternity and like an instant. Time has no relation to anything as it once did. The days go by quickly, but they drag into weeks.
On that dreadful day the girls were afraid. They asked a lot of questions.
“Is he going to be all right?”
I told them you were doing your job. I didn’t know where you were, but I knew that God was with you.
And then I told them, “I do know God is in control. And don’t forget that God loves Daddy even more than we do.”
They wanted to know what would happen if you died.
I told them you would go to heaven, and that we needed to trust God.
Then I asked them if someone we loved came to know Jesus through us losing you, would it be worth it? They said yes.
Then I switched that up a little and asked if anyone came to know Jesus because of us losing you, would it be worth it.
Again, they replied yes.
We counted the cost as we knew you would’ve wanted us to.
But that didn’t mean the cost was easy to bear.
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