It was a beautiful spring evening just after work and I was walking the few blocks to where my car was parked. I noticed a gentleman that I had met just a week or so prior, on a previous hike out to our parked cars. The first time we met he was walking with another acquaintance of mine and we barley exchanged names, but at least I knew I had met him before. This time would be different.
This time, we struck up a bit of a friendly conversation. His arms were filled with a bag packed with an assortment of things that did not look like they would have come from a work place. So, I dared to ask a question. “What’s up with all the stuff in the bag?” He hesitated for a moment and then said “It is a meal from a coworker.” That sounded a bit odd but that voice that always talks to me in my head encouraged me to pry just a little bit further. “Well that sure is nice that a coworker would give you meal, what is happening?” I was thinking that maybe there was a new baby in the house or something along those lines.
Again, there was the hesitation; could he dare to be open? Was I really willing to listen? “My wife died two months ago leaving me with our five children, and my coworker are being very helpful.”
I was dumbstruck for a moment. “I am so sorry,” I said. “How are you and the family doing with all of this?” I asked. He said that they were doing remarkably well. He almost said this with a twinkle in his eye. It was so odd. I was just blown away that someone could even function at all, much less have an appearance of peace or was it joy.
Then the question came to my mind and I had to ask it. “Are you a man of faith?” He said “Oh yes, that is the only thing that is giving me strength, that and my large family”. He went on to say that he was a Catholic with a large family that is local and they are all helping immensely and that was a huge blessing. I knew he must have been a man of strong faith because he was living proof of it. He was a picture of strength in adversity.
He went on to share that is wife had died of her heart swelling up and stopping while she was sleeping one night. But, this happened to be two days before she was going to give birth to baby number six. Yes, this means this man lost both his wife and his new baby. It was such a tremendous tragedy.
Then comes the most remarkable part of the whole story, he went on to share that this incredible tragedy had been even a bit of a blessing in disguise. He told me how you never get to see the love of those around you until you are in terrible pain and need. These events that seem like a curse had allowed him to see clearly the deep love of friends and family, but he was also able to experience that “peace that passes all understanding.” He had experienced, in a very intimate way the love of God.
So there we were standing out in a parking lot, crying our eyes out just shortly after meeting each other. He was blessing me with this story and I was hoping I was not saying anything too stupid.
I am sure he is not past his grief and he seems to know that as well, but within such a short time after his wife’s death he was using the opportunity to bless other people’s lives with the story of his blessing from a curse.
I went away from this encounter thanking God for this “chance” meeting that reminded me again to cherish my loved ones and enjoy each moment that I have here on earth. I thanked for the curse that had become a blessing.