I’ve really been struggling.
I’m leaving for a business conference, and it’s a high-energy, intense 3-day event. The last day of the event is April 9th, and I leave a room of 1,000 of my new best friends to fly home on April 10th.
Which should have been our daughter’s 4th birthday.
I’ve been wrestling with this, as probably only other loss-parents might understand. And I’ve been wrestling with the fact that I’m wrestling with it.
It’s a little messy in my head with all this wrestling going on.
Today was a busy day. I had appointments all morning, I have plenty of work to do before I leave, not to mention laundry, packing, and making sure my household is in order before I up and abandon my family for a warmer climate as North Dakota awaits another cold front coming in.
I walked out to the garage before my first appointment and opened the door. My breath caught in my throat.
Living in an apartment complex, or as I try to positively call it, #littleapartmentontheprairie, you never know what you’re going to find in any place at any given time. When 100s of people are sharing the same square footage of space, there’s all kinds of goodies in the parking lot, in the grass, by the dumpster, and sometimes they find their way into your garage.
But today’s was different.
The day before I left on a trip I’ve really been struggling with, and knowing I’m coming home and leaving the airport to visit the cemetery, Harlynn gave me a gift.
She let me know it’s okay. She’s okay. I’m okay.
Staring at me, from barely underneath the bumper of the mamavan was a playing card. Face up.
Not a joker, not a royalty card, not an ace, but a 4.
And not just any 4. Oh no. The 4 of hearts. Not a club, spade, or diamond. But the 4 of hearts.
I stooped down and gently picked it up and marveled before I began to weep.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I whispered over and over again.
I sat in the driver’s seat and sobbed the whole way to my first appointment: the chiropractor. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, regaining my composure. I put the playing card in my purse and walked inside.
“Good morning! How are you?” he asked enthusiastically, just as every time before.
“I’m okay……I’m not okay.” I started crying.
Trust me when I say my chiropractor has seen me cry plenty. He’s a dear friend, a strong believer, and he’s cracked me back into shape through a lot of stuff over the years.
He sat me down. I told him my story. I snotted all over his office. He listened. He spoke words I needed to hear. He prayed for me. Then he snap-crackle-popped me back into a well-adjusted individual.
My next appointment was at – gosh, you’re not even going to believe this. My next appointment was with my OBGYN. The doctor who has been with me through three deliveries. Three emergencies. One tragedy. Over seven years.
When she came in, she hugged me, told me how cute I looked, and before we got down to business I asked if I could tell her a story. She said yes. So I did.
I showed her the card. Her eyes welled up and she hugged me again. She whispered, “I will never forget that day.” And she confirmed she doesn’t believe this card was a coincidence.
Folks…. Whether Harlynn knows if I struggle sometimes, I don’t know. But the Lord knows. And He knew I needed this gift from her today, the day before I leave town and am gone, surrounded by strangers, who have no idea April 9th marks 4 years since learning her heart stopped beating, and I delivered her in that silent hospital room 16 minutes after midnight on April 10th. I knew I was going be to surrounded by people, but I also knew I was going to feel completely isolated and alone.
Until this morning.
Harlynn hasn’t forgotten her family. Certainly, God has not forgotten, nor has He forsaken us. And now, no matter where I go or who I’ll end up with, I’ll have that confirmation I am never alone. There are no coincidences, but miracles are an every-day thing.
I’m not worried about this conference. In fact, I’m ready for it.
And you can bet I’ll be keeping this card up my sleeve the whole time I’m away. I know a winning hand when I’m dealt one.
Thank you, Harlynn. Thank you.