Yesterday was a long and wonderful day. I woke up to gray skies in Austin, drove to Lorena to have lunch with a dear friend who gave me a gift I will treasure forever, stopped by to see my sister, and, on my way back to Austin, went by the cemetary to leave flowers on Allie's grave.
I couldn't remember where it was, but it wasn't hard to find, because it was covered in brightly colored flowers - red roses, purple and pink and yellow tulips, purple irises, and the pink azaleas that are planted there. It was colorful and lively and the sun was out and the sky was blue and the cemetary in Waco is a beautiful place, full of shady live oaks and peaceful breezes.
As I stood remembering and taking it all in, suddenly a woman touched me on the arm. I'd seen three other people at a grave about thirty yards away, but I didn't see her come my way. "I thought I should say hello," she said, "since we're neighbors." We talked about Allie and about her son John, who recently died after a motorcycle accident. "So young," she said, when she looked at Allie's grave, and I asked how old her son was. 27.
Her grandson came running over to us and she scooped him up and explained to him that I was there to visit my friend's grave, and that, like his Uncle John, Allie is in heaven. He must have been about three years old, and he looked up at me with wide brown eyes and asked, "How old was your friend?" "Twenty-three," I said, and both his grandmother and I were overwhelmed with the sadness of it all. She told me she would visit Allie's grave when she comes to see her son, and that she would pray for Allie's family and friends. I promised to do the same for her, and asked her son's name, and her voice broke as she told me. "God be with you," I said. "You, too," she said as she turned to cry and to leave me with my grief.
I told Steve Not the Lawyer about what happened as we were driving back to Austin last night. "What a powerful moment," he said. He's right. What happened in that cemetary was poignant and painful, but it was also holy. "Let not your heart be troubled," says the bench next to Allie's grave. How glad I am that even in the midst of devastating grief, even when we have to learn to live with a senseless, unjust tragedy, the presence of Christ with us, making it possible for us to reach out to one another, to share a tear and a prayer, to offer a moment of peace in a quiet cemetary. Let not your heart be troubled, trust that God sends the comfort you need, and know that there will be moments of holiness when you expect them the least.