The Message

It had been 3 agonizing, mind-numbing months since Ian passed away when I decided I needed to do something outside of myself – something that allowed me to replace a bit of his kindness in the world. I searched for a community service outlet to honor Ian’s memory and then joined a group of volunteers that delivers meals to homes of the aged and ailing.

Training was provided in the form of a ride-along with an experienced volunteer. When we visited the last home on what would be my weekly Friday route, my trainer told me that this elderly recipient had no family left. Neighbors checked in on Marilyn routinely and she got this vital meal service but she was otherwise on her own. Marilyn is 96 years old.

On the following Friday, I managed to make it through my delivery route without getting lost. Not bad for the first time. When I pulled up to my final stop, Marilyn’s house, my trainer’s words rang in my ears…she has no family. My heart broke and I temporarily forgot about my own heartbreak. Emotions from Ian’s passing were still so raw at that time. In fact, driving to my route earlier that same morning, I looked hard into the clear blue sky and searched the clouds for some type of sign from God…from Ian. Nothing.  As I drove down the freeway, I cried out to God that I desperately needed a sign that Ian was with him and that he was okay.

I knocked on the door and called out “Nana your lunch is here.” There was Marilyn sitting right there on the sofa, just a few feet away from the screen door that separated us. At first glance, she looked so frail and I wondered if she could make it to the door. She slowly got up and shuffled over to the screen door. I handed her the lunch with the brightest smile I could muster up.

“Lunch for you,” I said again. She smiled, balanced the lunch containers in her unsteady hands and said something in Filipino. Oops, language barrier, I assumed. Then, in broken English, she said something nice about the shirt I wore and that my cheeks were really red! “Yeah, it’s really hot out today,” I explained with a chuckle.

She went on to tell me that I looked really healthy. Wow, I haven’t heard that in a long time I thought, as a real smile broke out on my face. I sensed that she just wanted to talk a bit, so I decided to pause and listen. “Thank you, how nice of you,” I replied.

Marilyn immediately added, “Your sons are healthy, too.” This took my breath away and my heart began to race. Oh no, what is she talking about? I can’t talk about my son without much trepidation.

She then said, “You have two sons, right?” I said “Yes,” as my mind scrambled. How in the world did she know that?  Should I explain that one of my two sons had cancer and is in heaven now? That seemed like too much to communicate with the growing lump in my throat and the potential communication barrier. I simply said “Yes, I have two sons.”

“Yeah, I knew …” she said. “Your two sons, they are healthy. That is so good!” she exclaimed smiling. Still confused, I turned around to see if perhaps some boys were passing by on the street that she thought were my sons. No one was there.

At a complete loss for words, I just stared at Marilyn. And then she said it again. “You have two healthy sons. That’s good…” I reasoned inside my head that she must be talking about her own two sons. Then, as if she read my mind, she said, “I don’t have any kids. I’m 96.”

I suddenly had an overwhelming sense and clarity that Marilyn wasn’t asking me anything at all — she was telling me something I desperately needed to know! My two sons, one here on earth and one in heaven, are healthy. No more cancer. The lump in my throat closed off my airway and tears lurched to the corners of my eyes. Marilyn just stood there holding her lunch with a knowing smile.

“Enjoy your lunch nana. I’ll see you again next week,” I said with a cracking voice.

“Ok, thank you,” said Marilyn tenderly.

As I made my way down the stairs of Marilyn’s front porch, I heard her say out loud, “God is good.”

Tears of joy flowed freely before I could even reach my car. Driving away, Marilyn’s words rang in my ears. My sons, both of my sons, are healthy now.

(The name of the recipient was changed to protect her identity but the rest is my best recollection of this God-moment, which I wrote down as soon as I got home.)

11 thoughts on “The Message

  1. This is such a special story…I loved it when you told it to me and I’m so glad that you are sharing it with others. It’s interesting that you chose today…today is Doug’s 3rd anniversary. Love you!

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    1. Wow, you’re right Laurie. I think the message was for you, too. Doug is healed now also! I’m so hard-headed. I “know” he’s in heaven and healed, yet I still begged God for a sign. He graciously gave it to me. Love you very much♡ All my love to you and the kids on this noteworthy and bittersweet day for your family.

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  2. Oh Sherrie! You are so loved by god and your family! Ian is just fine! He is a bright Shining soul having a great time in a more grand place then here on earth! He will guide you home when it becomes your time! In the meantime follow your heart and the light that is gods light in your heart and mind! God bless you and your family!!

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  3. I can not tell you how I many times I have felt Ian’s presence. Despite my own health issues I decided to change my fb background to Ian’s “enjoy the ride” for truly our tomorrows are never promised all we have are today and the beautiful memories of tomorrow.
    I didn’t tell you but I had an opportunity to address the entire middle school during lent and during the stations of the cross. I had a whole “speech” written. But during the stations especially at the station that Jesus dies, I had an Ianspiration. He had me rewrite a portion of the speech to the kids. Up I go. In front of the audience and I am to speak of the cross, it’s agony, it’s presence, and it’s application to 12-14yo. So I shared that this was the hardest year for me as a teacher as I lost two of my favorite students. A day after Ian’s passing I got word of another passing of one of my students. He was the one who fell at Ala Moana.
    Making sense of this life is crazy. All we have is the now. We must enjoy the ride.

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    1. Oh my goodness, Jeff. Your words touch me to the core! How devasting to have lost two students in 2 days. What you did for the students was so very smart and compassionate. It’s so CLEAR why Ian was so impacted by you. I did see Ian’s art on your Facebook wall and was so happy. I think about you often and pray for the best possible outcome of your current situation. All our love♡ Sherrie

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  4. Sherrie,
    I am a fellow loss Mom, a wife, a believer and follower of Jesus as well. Your story was a true blessing to me. I’m not a big believer in signs. It seems as if people view the simplest of things – everyday things – as signs. Generally, I just think it is hurting hearts desperate for their children. No judgment here, just my cynical heart, I guess.
    Frankly, in the three years since my most recent loss, I’ve been afraid to ask for a sign like you so bravely did here. I’m afraid I will hear another ‘No’ to my request and not asking is much less painful than to be disappointed when the longed for sign doesn’t appear. Aside from that I think my broken heart will just summon up a sign that really is nothing more than a common everyday occurrence. In truth, maybe I’m just too cynical to recognize a sign should I encounter it. And even if I did I’d second guess myself out of believing it is God’s way of reaching beyond the veil – that He really gifted me with a sign. Maybe that’s why I have never received a sign. My heart is too hardened to believe.
    But your story – that’s something beyond explanation and I am happy for you that you received this consolation for your soul.
    You have my most sincere condolences on the loss of your son, Ian. And hats off to you for finding a way to minister to others in the midst of your grief.
    Thank you for sharing your blessing and extending hope to other hurting parents simultaneously.

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    1. Janet, I am so very sorry for your loss. Yes, I know exactly how you feel about “asking” God for anything, especially since our prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be when Ian passed from cancer. I was reluctant for several months when someone asked for prayer for health. I cringed. But, it’s been this experience with Marilyn that really helped me to realize God did not forsake us and he still hears my cries for help today. Janet, I’m so touched and honored that you read my post and it spoke to you. I hope you’ll ask God for a sign, if you feel the urge. I think, too, that we as grieving parents can easily miss the signs, as I almost did. It was good that Marilyn was persistent in getting her message across to me. From one devastated mom to the next, I wish you love and peace♡ thanks again for your comment. Sherrie

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