The Day That Changed My Life

Finally – spring!

Finally, spring had arrived!  After a very long, cold and snowy winter, spring had come at last and warm temperatures were promised for the next week.  We were so excited!  At last the girls’ daddy could take them fishing in our pond.  More important to me, now my husband and I could begin our new home.

In September of the previous year we had purchased some property in the country where we were going to build our home.  It had been our dream since we had married over 12 years before that one day we would build a home in the country with a little acreage where we could have a big garden, a few cows and a horse for our daughters.

The property was perfect!  Set on a hill it overlooked fields of corn directly in front of us and behind us were thick woods.  Just down the hill was a winding creek perfect for wading in the hot summer.  We had a pond stocked with fish and for my fisherman husband – that was the icing on the cake.

The only bad thing about the purchase was that until we built our house we would have to live in the mobile home on the property and it was in terrible shape.  About to fall down, when the wind blew, the windows offered little protection.  But we only had to get through the winter and in spring we could begin building.  One year in a junky trailer would be worth achieving our dream.

But what a winter!

When we moved in we had no idea what a cold winter was coming our way.  Record temperatures were set that year and it seemed it would never stop snowing.  The water pipes froze in the trailer and we had to carry water from the well – in the freezing temperatures!  The only heat we had was a wood-burning stove in the living room so we  all slept together in a big bed we put in the room.  My husband and I kept saying to one another as we snuggled with the girls between us in the bed trying to keep them warm, “Hang in there – spring is coming!”

I began planning my flower garden.  After the house was built and we had the trailer moved, we would make a beautiful flower garden where the trailer had set.  My husband was talking to local farmers to determine where we could buy a couple of cows and a horse for the girls!  All we had to do was tough it out for a few more weeks until spring came.

As spring approached and the temperatures began to climb, the girls began asking their daddy, “Can we go fishing now?”  He promised them that he would take them fishing on Saturday.

Then Thursday came!

Thursday morning my husband drove me to work.  He had worked the midnight shift.  Although he was tired, he was going to make some repairs on the car before going to bed.  He had a rough night at work and was a little cranky.  On the ride into town, I tried to tease him and get him in a better mood.  By the time we arrived at my office, he was smiling at me once again.  I looked at him and said, “You would miss me if something happened to me – like you would miss a migraine!”  We laughed and I kissed him not knowing that was the last time I would ever be able to do that.

I had planned to give my husband a call at lunchtime to see how the car repairs were going, but the day was so busy, I kept working through lunch.  After school I received a call from my oldest daughter.  No surprise there – my girls always called me when they got home from school to let me know they were okay and tell me about their day.  Their father was always home when they arrived, but I still liked to hear from them after school.  I answered the phone expecting the usual “Hi Mommy!”  But I was not prepared for what I heard.  My oldest daughter, 11, said words I will never forget.  “Mommy, I think Daddy is dead!”  Both my daughters – ages 6 and 11 – had come home to find their father dead in the driveway.  The car he had been working on had fallen on him and crushed him.

There must be some mistake!

At first I could not believe it!  I thought he is only injured – not dead.  I panicked, but my daughter showed more calmness than I did.  She called the ambulance and the neighbor.  Believing that he must only be injured and that they would take him directly to the hospital, I called a friend who drove me to the hospital.  We waited and waited.  Finally, sensing something was not right, my friend spoke to the nurses in the emergency room.  They told her he would not be coming to the hospital – he had been pronounced dead at the scene.

We jumped in the car and hurried to my country home.  How could I have been such an idiot?  Why did I not go directly to my daughters?  How horrible it must be for them out there with their father dead and their mother still in town?

Walking in a dream!

The next few days were like a dream – or a nightmare!  I found it hard to go to sleep, and when I finally fell asleep, I would wake up realizing something was wrong – but what was it?  Then, it would hit me again – my husband is dead!

I must be strong!

My main thought was that I had to be strong for my daughters.  My own parents had  divorced when I was young.  My father had deserted me and my mother just fell apart emotionally.  Not only was I left to basically deal with my sorrow on my own, but I felt responsible to help my mother deal with her anger and grief.  I was determined I would not repeat that mistake – I would not put my burden of sorrow and pain on my daughters.  Looking back, I realize I may have made a mistake in trying to be so strong for them.  As little girls, they saw this strong woman (not knowing the heartbreak I hid from them) and I think they grew up with an image of a strong woman who no one could really live up to.

My life was changed!

Suddenly, without any warning, my life was changed.  The plans we had made, the hope we had for spring was gone.  There would be no new house, no flower garden, no horse in the pasture.  I just could not do all that on my own.

As family and friends came for the funeral and to try to comfort us, I could see that they did not see the dream my husband and I had shared.  All they saw was the dumpy mobile home and they thought “Poor Barbara.  Look where she was living.”  How I longed to tell them about the blueprints we had for our new house – about the garden catalogs where the pages were marked just waiting for us to order the bulbs in a few weeks.  I wanted to point out where the vegetable garden would go and the new driveway we would have when the trailer was removed.

But my grief was too much – so I just accepted their words of comfort and tried to ignore those who gave me looks of condescension.  Although that dream would not come true, it would always remain in my heart – it would always be something I had shared with my husband.

In the midst of sorrow, God was there

God was so present to me in my time of shock and grief.  When I first heard those horrible words from my daughter that my husband was dead, I immediately thought, “What will I do to raise two girls all alone.”  Even before the question was completed in my mind, I remembered those words of Jesus, “Lo, I am with you always.”

And He was.  Every step of the way.  During visitation the young couple that we were buying our property from on contact for deed, asked to speak to me privately.  I assumed they were concerned if I was going to continue to make payments on the land and I quickly assured I would.  They told me that was not why they wanted to speak to me.  They did not understand the sense of peace it seemed everyone had.  They said, “We have never attended a visitation or funeral where we sensed such peace.  Why do you seem so at peace?”

The Prince of Peace

What a joy it was to tell them that I knew the Prince of Peace – that my husband had known Him too.  And although we sorrowed it was not without hope.

And now, dear brothers, I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those are who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him all the Christians who have died.   I can tell you this directly from the Lord: that we who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves.   For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a mighty shout and with the soul-stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet-call of God. And the believers who are dead will be the first to rise to meet the Lord.   Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever.   So comfort and encourage each other with this news.

There is sorrow – but there is hope – and there is joy!

My life – and the lives of my daughters – were forever changed.  There will always be sorrow – especially for my daughters – when they miss their daddy not being there at important times in life.  But there is hope – we will meet again.  And God brings joy even now.  In time, when the wounds were not so bad, God brought another man into our lives to be my husband and their “Pop.”  He did not replace their daddy – he has never tried to do that.  But he has loved them as his own and brought joy once again to our lives.

I  can only imagine

There was a song out a few years ago that talked about what we would do when we get to heaven – and of course, we can only imagine.  But sometimes when I think of heaven, I can just see my present husband meeting my first husband and I can hear the words he would probably speak.

Thank you for loving and taking care of my three girls when I could not.

My faith is built on a solid rock!

My life changed that day – but after 33 years I can say with no doubt – My God is faithful!

You are in our thoughts forever!

Lonnie Dale Lott

May 22, 1948 – March 25, 1982

 

 

 

 

 

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