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.)