Not the Last Goodbye

About two weeks ago, my husband Veroni and I were running separate errands in separate towns. When I had finished and got back into my car, I switched on the car radio and heard on the news that there had been an accident on the exact road that I knew he would be traveling on. According to the news, the road was closed and there were two fatalities. No.

I called Veroni immediately to find out if he was okay, but he didn’t answer. I called him 4 more times and when he didn’t pick up, my heart started racing more and more. Why is he not picking up his phone?

Then I went on the internet to see what else I could find out about the accident, and I saw the accident video of a truck and two cars that had been involved. One of the cars was burned out and lying upside-down, but it resembled our Volvo, the car I knew he would be driving with.

In a split second, I was sweating and my heart was beating out of my chest. I couldn’t stop shaking. This cannot be my husband. This cannot be Veroni. Right away, I called police in our home town and asked whether they knew anything about the accident. But no, they didn’t have any information about it, and said that I should call the police in another town.

The other police told me that all of their people were still on the scene and they hadn’t received any information yet. I said, “Listen to me. My husband was on that road and he’s not answering his phone. Can’t you just call someone at the scene and ask what types of cars were involved in the accident?”

So finally – reluctantly I might add – the policewoman took down my information and said she would call me back. I called him again, just in case, and he still wasn’t picking up. And in that moment, the thought hit me and flowed through me: He’s dead. He was in that accident. It was the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my entire life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And immediately I thought, I have to get to the accident right now but there’s no way I can drive myself in this state. Who can I possibly find to drive me?

Determined, I decided to go to the pharmacy to get something to just calm me down, because I was shaking and I felt ill, like I was going to throw up. But just before I got back into the car, I called him one last time.

And he answered.

He said that he was home and that his phone had been on silent. And you know, he kept apologizing over and over for causing me this much anxiety, but I wasn’t even angry with him. I just thought, Thank you God, my husband is alive. I had gotten a message from him much earlier in the day letting me know that he was going to be eating breakfast somewhere and that he loved me and missed me, and I had wondered, “Is this the last message I’ll ever have from my husband? The Last Goodbye?” But it wasn’t the Last Goodbye.

But how do we know when it will be?

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What If?

What if God takes away the rain because we do not thank him for the flowers?
What if God takes away his gifts because I do not open them?
What if God takes away his Word because I do not believe and trust what he says?
What if God answers my prayers in a way I did not expect?
What if God had granted Jesus’ prayer when he asked to let the cup pass him by?
What if God allows me to feel utterly desolate?

What if the pain of broken relationships leaves me in utter dismay?
What if accusations and curses come from unexpected places?
What if losses are more than gains?
What if disappointments drain the life out of you and nightmares come true?

Vaneetha Rendall Rishner wrote the following in her blog:

Even if.
These two simple words have taken the fear out of life. Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can ever make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God. We see that even if the worst happens, God will carry us. He will still be good. And he will never leave us.

Habakkuk models this exchange beautifully. Though he had pleaded with God to save his people, he closes this book with this exquisite “even if…”

Even though the fig trees have no fruit
and no grapes grow on the vines,
even though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no corn,
even though the sheep all die
and the cattle stalls are empty,
I will still be joyful and glad,
because the Lord God is my savior.
The Sovereign Lord gives me strength.
He makes me sure-footed as a deer,
and keeps me safe on the mountains.

Hab 3:17-19 (GNB)

I Could Be Me

I started my blog 6 years ago during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was hosted in South Africa. I wrote, “It is cold. I lit a candle to remind me of the promise of a coming fireplace.” The promise I talked about then truly became a wonderful, real fireplace with a  heartwarming atmosphere and heat that fills our cold bones.

I also wrote, “We will watch a soccer match tonight between Germany and Spain. It has been good so far. We will vuvuzela to the best of our ability. But my vuvuzela goes to Yara, my first granddaughter. You win!”

At first I did not blog as frequently as I intended. Almost three years disappeared somewhere!  As Yara turned 6 this year, I reflected on her life. There are so many facets to her big personality that I could talk about.

I will mention two things about her (apart from saying that she is kind, loving, brilliant, talented, gifted, wise and fun, and that our lives forever are enriched by this girl).

1. She said to me once, “With daddy, mommy and Aaro (her brother), I use my own love to love them. With you, Ouma, I don’t love you with my love. I use YOUR love for me to love you back.” Quite a theology right here.

2. Each year Yara chooses a different theme for her birthday party, like Tinkerbell or The Little Mermaid. This year she announced that the theme would simply be Yara. I could not help thinking how many years it took me to realize that I could be me.

I love this child.

Use my love as much as you want, Yara.

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