Saturday, July 24, 2010

Talking to Strangers

Early last week the kids and I were out running errands. I got a couple of texts from John but wasn't in a place where I could reply to him so I handed my phone to the kids and asked them to text their dad and tell him that we were okay and I'd call him soon.

My older two kids have cell phones of their own and in their contact list John is "Dad" so naturally that's who they sent the message to.

Uh oh.

In MY contact list, John is John and Dad is my dad. Yeah, I still have my dad's number in my phone. I haven't been able to bring myself to delete it. It just feels I'm not ready to take that step (now or possibly ever).

Almost as soon as I realized what had happened, I got a message in reply: Is that you, Spencer?

I'm still getting used to my new phone (yay for the slide-out QWERTY keyboard!) and I sent a couple of goof texts back. So embarrassing.

Another response from the stranger: Call me.

Honestly, I was a little shaken. It's getting pretty close to the anniversary of my dad's death. I tend to think about things chronologically and often reflect back on what I was doing this time last year, or the year before, or even the year before that. This time last year I was in Arkansas taking care of my dad and getting ready to drive back to Colorado with the kids and rendevous with John for our family vacation to Durango. This time last year was H-A-R-D. Seeing a message from "Dad" pop up on my cell was unsettling and brought a flood of feelings back in an instant.

I threw my phone in my purse and kept checking things off of our errand list in an effort to distract myself. When we stopped for lunch, I pulled my phone back out to check messages and I sent the stranger a text apologizing for the messages that hadn't been intended for him/her.

Another response: No worries. I have kids who live in Colorado, recognized the area code and thought it might be them. I thought they might be trying to reach me.

Hmmmmmmm. How strange.

My dad had that cell phone number for probably 15 years. And now it belonged to some stranger in Arkansas who had kids who lived in Colorado (and in my area code).

I found that just a tiny bit unsettling. And just plain weird.

I felt compelled to respond to this stranger and tell him/her my life story. If you know me, you're not surprised. Ha! Actually, I replied and simply told him/her what happened. That I'd asked my kids to text my husband and they sent the message to their 'Dad'. That his/her number had belonged to my dad and I was not emotionally prepared to delete it from my contacts. That I was truly sorry for the misunderstanding and interruption.

To my surprise, the stranger responded again. I'm sorry to say that I accidentally deleted the message from my phone yesterday. I really meant to save it. It said something like: I am so sorry about your father and I completely understand. You have a wonderful rest of the day and may God bless you.

It wasn't earth shattering or even profound. But the words of THAT stranger on THAT day were comforting to me. Deeply comforting.

This journey of grief is so complex. There are days that I'm fine and other days that I come completely undone. The smallest of things can catch me off guard and send me spiraling into a depression that I don't even fully realize until it's full blown.

I haven't processed too much of my grief on this blog (for a couple of reasons) but I did want to share this story. It was strange and unsettling, yet also comforting and not at all random. And I'm fine that makes sense to no one else buy me.

I shared this story with some friends who suggested it was a God "hug"---evidence that God sees my heart, sees my hurt, and wanted to remind me that He cares. Hmmmmm...I believe they're on to something.


Elizabeth said...

I love how God took a simple misunderstanding and turned it into something really special for you. As strange as it was, it wasn't an accident at all. said...

I love this! And I love the term "God hug". What a great way to remember that he is in control of EVERY little thing...even our mis-texts. :) My best friend buried her sweet Mama last November and it has been a hard year. Somedays harder than others so I really empathize with you. Anniversary dates of tragic events are never easy either. :(

Jennifer said...

Oh Mer. Cannot imagine how it felt to see a message from "Dad" on your phone. Love that it was a kind-hearted person on the other end. Love you, my friend & hoping for a happy, peace-filled week for you!

Christy said...

I too have gotten those "emotional flashbacks" often. It always throws you for a loop. But our God is so faithful and He cares about us so much, it blows my mind. So thankful God shows us tangibly He's there. Thanks for sharing that story, Meredith!

*carrie* said...

This is quite a story, Mer. He moves in mysterious ways! Sending you a hug across the miles . . .

Melissa Stover said...

i think that's so neat and really wonderful.

Tami said...

I still have my mom's cell number in my contact list and don't think I will ever delete it. It makes me happy on those days when I am looking for someone's number and see her name there.

Gina said...

So, I recently changed from the cell number I had for 10 years, to a "disposable" cell phone. I don't think the person who has my old number appreciated all the texts I was supposed to get from my family. Especially the one from my brother asking if "drowning him was the only way to get him to shut up" the weekend he dog-sat for me.
I do think "God hug" is the right term for what happens in life to remind us just how much our Abba loves us.
I pray that as the hurt starts to fade, God will put only sweet memories in its place.

Amber said...

I already heard this story when you told it on Facebook, but reading it again gave me chills all over again.

God really is a purposeful God. I wonder why we don't give Him more credit??

Love you, Mer. Praying for you.

Margaret said...

My Daddy has been gone 16 years and I still have his travel kit bag in the closet. Just can't seem to empty it and let anyone else use it. I understand. it does get easier but still things sneak up on you like your story today. The suprise lilly that came up after the funeral in a different place was a hug to tell me everything was good. Hugs to you.

Robin said...

I know grief and grieving is a process that we will not complete on this side of heaven but I am so glad that God knows we need his comfort on the journey.

Trish said...

Isn't it so amazing that God loves us so much that he often uses others to wrap us up in HIS arms!

I often think of the time I was in Fred Meyer the day before Christmas and was having such a horrible day, had been fighting with Dave, was PMS-ing, and my kids were being terrors. I was silently crying and some lady walked by, saw me, stopped my cart and hugged me (complete stranger)! While she was hugging me she whispered in my ear "it isn't supposed to be this way, remember the baby in the Manger is why we celebrate". Then she asked if I was okay, and walked on.....I never saw her again through that shopping trip, but in that momoent, I felt hugged by God!

I pray that you will continue to feel loved by our Abba Father as you grieve through this anniversary of losing your dad.

Blessings to you Mere!

mel @ the larson lingo said...

Okay, this totally has me in tears. I am so sorry for the loss of your dad last year. I am smiling on how God used this to comfort you. Praying for you as you remember your dad and this time last year.

Anonymous said...

I totally get you on this. My mom died 3 years ago and I have messages saved on my cell phone from her. And when my Dad calls from her old cell (that he took as his own after she passed) and leaves a message, it has her cheery voice greeting me. And I tear up every single time. But I cannot bear to erase them either. Grief is such a hard and complex thing.
Thanks for sharing.

Melissa S.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing the encouragement, it means a lot to me too.
Stephanie x

Carpool Queen said...

I like how he took time to encourage you, Meredith. We never know when we're going to have those random encounters with people who are hurting and stopping to say a few kind words can make such a difference to them.


Lauren said...

Totally agree...... I think this was God saying "I love you"!!!

Nancy said...

definitely a GOD moment. i can relate. 6 months ago yesterday we buried my dad. we knew it was coming but it didn't make it any easier. some days are good. some are not. hang in there.

p.s. thanks so much for stopping by my place. glad to meet you.

Mollie said...

Very Cool story!! I have missed reading your blog- it has been a busy summer!!