Please just Hit Me Softly. On the heals of sharing about my initial experience with depression, I thought I would offer my thoughts surrounding the suicidal death of Robin Williams. Indeed, I had written an entire post and was ready to hit “Publish” when, instead, I hit “Delete.” I decided that I really didn’t want to hop onto that bandwagon. As I said in my post that started this series, I don’t want to be bombarded anymore and so I won’t do that to you, dear reader, either. For if depression is a wicked widow, suicide is her dark neighbor nobody really knows. In 2001 we lost one of our beloved nephews to this mysterious neighbor. In the aftermath, I purchased books on the subject and followed up with research online. There really are no definitive answers to the question, “Why?” Even if a note is left by the deceased, it’s just a clue really, because there never is enough time to bleed all that we’re feeling onto paper with pen when communicating with words lies at the foundation of the pain. We simply can not know what, exactly, one’s final thoughts were. So, I offer you this snapshot of a few books from my home library on the subject and will, instead, share with you a glimpse of my encounter with angels. After all, angels rarely look or act anything like we imagine.
Austin, Texas 1975. I had found and retrieved my toddlers from their biological father. Then I called for a taxi and headed to the airport. I can’t remember if it was very late, or very early, but either way it was dark and the airport was nearly deserted. I walked up to the counter and purchased one ticket home. Back then it wasn’t required to purchase seats for children under three years-of-age. The trade-off being that you had to have them on your lap for the entire flight, unless or until, after take off, there were empty seats on the plane.
I placed the ticket in my backpack, took the hands of each child, and walked over to a corner in the lobby across from the ticket counter. Our flight wouldn’t be leaving for several hours. So I sat down, propped the backpack behind me, and coaxed the Tinies to lay down with their heads on either side of my lap.
Shortly after we settled down for the long wait, one of the airline agents approached me. “I spoke to our supervisor, Miss. We noticed that you look awfully tired and we’d like to set you up in a nearby motel room for the night. We’ll have the van take you there and pick you up in the morning in time for your flight.” And with that, he led us out to the curb where we climbed into the van and headed to the motel. Once there, I was escorted to the front counter, checked in, and helped to our room. The next morning we were offered a continental breakfast and then the van arrived to take us back to the airport.
I can’t truly say that I recognized the airline agent as being one of the two who helped me to purchase my ticket at the counter. I don’t remember clearly looking at the face of the driver who took us to the motel. I don’t even recall what the midnight shift staff member at the motel looked like. What I do remember was how weary I was and how nice it was to sleep, unencumbered with worry or fear if only for a night, with my wee girls safely next to me. And how necessary it was for my soul to awaken in a room and do normal, routine things like bathing together in a tub, and then sitting down to a small, warm breakfast.
As Christians we are asked to “not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” (Hebrews 13:2) — but we are rarely told how to prepare ourselves for being shown hospitality by angels. For years, looking back on that time, I had wished that I had been alert enough to obtain the agent’s name, so as to properly thank him for going the extra mile for me and my wee girls. And yet, perhaps, just maybe, my not doing so, my not knowing his name, was the point and purpose all along.
A few years later, I was living in a small apartment in El Monte, California. Every morning I would get up, get myself and my wee daughters dressed, walk to the bus stop and board the bus. We would get off the bus in front of the Christian nursery school where I had them enrolled and then, after kissing them goodbye, I would go back to the bus stop and board again to go to work. This pattern would be repeated in reverse at the end of the each day.
For whatever reason, after picking up the girls one evening, I had missed the bus that was to take us back home. So there we sat on the bench, in the dark, waiting for the next available bus. A car drove up and stopped and an old man rolled down the window on the passenger side to speak to me. He asked if he could give me a lift because he wouldn’t feel right just passing the three of us on the bench, leaving us there for what could be hours.
I said yes and he did exactly as he offered. That scenario could have turned out bad in so many ways. Weary mother, two young children.
I don’t believe I ever asked for his name. I don’t believe he ever gave it to me. I don’t even remember seeing him or his car before they were both in front of me across from the bench.
I certainly never saw him pass that way again.
Not too long after that, as I continued to struggle to come up with the tuition to keep my Tinies in the Christian day care center, there was an envelope with no return address in my mailbox.
February 15, 1977
You and I have never met, and chances are pretty good that we never will. But nevertheless, I feel strongly moved to help you in this small way. Yet I’m not really the giver at all. The Spirit of God that lives deep within all of us has brought this gift to you.
So you see, who I am really doesn’t matter very much. However, I do have just one small request; I ask that you don’t tell anyone how you received this gift. It’s very likely that one day you will be moved by the same Spirit to help someone else in a similar way. Then you’ll see more clearly why I have asked you to let this thing remain confidential.
You already have much to give to the world. May God bless you and your children abundantly.
With sincere love,
In the envelope with the letter was a check to cover three months tuition for the girls’ Christian day care.
I paid their tuition and I never mentioned how I received the money. Through everything that has happened in the decades since I received it, I have kept the letter. Some blessings are meant to be held and read over and over and over again. And even in my lowest moments, I have often been “moved by the same Spirit to help someone else in a similar way.”
This is the first time I am sharing it, openly. I don’t think the giver would mind now.
I’ll leave that to your ponderings to decide.
No matter where your feet take you, appreciate the journey, dear reader.