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Happy Birthday, Anna

2. Posted May 9, 2020, From Forgiveness to Friendship

Six months earlier (prior to Blog 1. Traffic Court)

For everything there is a season…a time to be born, and a time to die…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, ESV

Thursday, May 2, 2013, began as usual. I could hear our daughter Anna clicking away on her keyboard as she routinely made social connections on Facebook before starting the day. As an eight-year Army Veteran, divorcee, and single mom, she was currently enrolled in a nearby community college hoping to graduate soon and make a life for herself and her girls. Her cell phone, pinging with notifications and the attention of her online community, delighted her.

Not a Morning Person. She shuffled down the stairs wrapped in her robe and stood at the counter, sleepy and grumpy, waiting for coffee as I skittered around the kitchen getting ready to leave for work. Anna was not a morning person like me and her dad. I had learned to tone down chipper morning conversation to almost nothing until her body clock woke up with caffeine. Her daughters, Kadah and Bella, ten and seven years old, bounded down the stairs like sunshine dressed for school just as I was grabbing my jacket from the coat closet. Anna walked over to greet them, and we created a crowded cluster of four between the closet and hall bench.

Her Special Day. I suddenly remembered it was Anna’s birthday, so before leaving, I simply smiled at her and said, “Happy Birthday, Anna.” She gave me a dull look, but both girls squealed, and her ten-year old’s face lit up as she giggled, “Ima! We forgot it’s your birthday!” Looking up at her mama, little sister began marching in place, pumping her arms, and chanting in step to the beat of her feet, “Happy Birthday, to you! Happy Birthday, to you!” At this, Anna could not help but grin at the little face smiling up at her, and out the door I went, having no idea I had just spoken my last words to my daughter.

Fear Not. Dear readers, this is a happy ending story, but as is so often the case in life, there is a valley before there is a mountaintop. It’s all good in the end. Next post, due to these strange stay-at-home times, I will post a crazy dilemma that befell me, not part of this story, “My Story Has Holes in It.” Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will join me again and tell one other person about my site. 🙂

In memory of our dear daughter: a disciplined athletic, single mom, and eight-year Army veteran, here are a few photos of her and her precious treasures. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Anna!

In Times Like These

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Heart-broken over the history, protests, outrage, injustice, and image of George Floyd’s death, I wrote a letter to my neighbors with whom my husband and I have been friendly for years. I would like to share it with you and hope it holds some healing in times like these.

Dear (name of our street) Family,

Today, I call you family because my heart is so sad at current events in our nation and the world. And Stephen and I have loved you, our neighbors, since we moved in, in March 2005…. We have had dinners with you, celebrations, funerals, and have prayed for your well-being and faith all these years.

When 9/11 broke 19 years ago, and the twin towers in New York fell, all three of our children were in the military: Marines, Army, Navy. Life stopped. I called all my neighbors in tears and blubbered out a message that my kids were all on duty, and I was having an open door prayer meeting at my house that evening for anyone and everyone who wanted to come. They all showed up looking scared. We simply gathered in our living room, and since Steve was [not home] working his shift work, I just prayed a short prayer out loud and invited others to do so if they wanted. In the end, our Army and Navy children were called to active duty in the war that followed and neither were harmed. Both came home, and there were no casualties in either of their platoons or units.

Once again, I feel compelled to call my neighbors to prayer. I want to pray with you for our community, for Chicago, our state, our nation, and the world. I know we can’t meet together in our home [due to COVID-19 virus restrictions], but I would like to share by email 2 short ancient prayers that have comforted me many times, especially at times when I am so overwhelmed I can’t formulate whole sentences.

I have set my phone to go off at 7:30 pm tonight and invite you to consider joining me in a quiet moment to pray for the family of George Floyd and all the George Floyds who have died of such injustices. We are a nation undone and in trouble. Stephen and I prayed this morning and all I could do was sob. We have lost our minds and our love for one another.

If you would consider it, please join me in your own home to spend a few minutes caring for each other in prayer. If prayer is not your thing, or you are angry with God, I understand. He understands. He has big shoulders and can handle that. Perhaps just reading these 2 ancient prayers will be a balm for you or someone you know. ———————–

Nearly 2000 years ago, a very small band of men sought answers from their spiritual teacher and said, “Teach us to pray,” to which He replied: “After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. -Matthew 6:9-13, the Holy Bible

Circa 354 b.c., from Augustine of Hippo, just a phrase from the introduction of his book The Confession:

…you [God] have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.

With love and prayers for us all,

Cathy & Steve ———————-

George Floyd died on the evening of Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th, 2020. I’m going to set my phone alarm for Monday evenings at 8:30 pm, just before my husband has to leave for work, so we can pause and pray for our nation to turn back to God. God, who only can cause change where it is needed most–the human heart.

I invite you to join with me, wherever you are, to lift up the broken families, the painful histories, our nation’s leaders, the need for collective change in our laws, our behavior, and our care for one another. May God bless you as you seek Him.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV

PB&J and Men in Black

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting the LORD.”

Psalm 112:7, ESV

3. Posted May 24, 2020, From Forgiveness to Friendship

Coming Home. At the end of the previous post of this story written on May 9th, I wished my daughter Anna a happy birthday and left for work. Now, I was zipping home from work to be on time to take ten-year old granddaughter, Kadah, to dance class. Anna could not drive due to slight seizure activity in her brain, so my husband and I often chauffeured her and her girls whenever we could. Anna was a stickler for routine and being on time (which, to her, meant slightly early), and I wanted to honor that. Arriving home shortly after 5 p.m., I dashed inside calling out, “I’m here! We can go!”

I expected to hear The Disney Channel from the living room television and the clatter of computer keys from upstairs, but the house was quiet. I quickly checked the kitchen clock to be sure I wasn’t late, then dashed to the foot of the stairs and called, “Anna, I’m home-we can go!” Nothing. Humph; that’s odd, I thought.

Peanut Butter Sandwich. I sent her a quick text and waited for her reply. Hungry for a snack knowing dinner would be later than usual, I slapped together a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich after calling to leave her a voice message. I had no premonition that anything might be wrong as Anna was quite independent. When I did not hear back from her, I assumed she thought I might be late and asked our next door neighbor for a ride to the park district building, only a six-minute drive away. I grabbed my sandwich and plopped down on the couch about 5:30 to unwind and watch a game show having no idea our dear daughter was already gone. Her body was in the coroner’s vehicle at the hospital, and he was on his way to our house with a deputy sheriff to tell us.

Two Men in Black. I was still wearing my jacket when I heard a knock. I clicked off the TV remote and through the side panel window next to the front door, I could partially see a gentleman in a black shirt and black pants. I found that curious. When I opened the door, there were two men in black. They sort of looked like police officers, but were not dressed like the Hollywood kind. I could not see their marked vehicle because our front door did not face the parking lot of our townhouse condo court. I thought maybe they were fund-raising. The gentleman nearest me asked, “Does Anna Harvey live here?”

“Yes, she does, but I’m her mother, the homeowner; she lives with us.” There was an awkward pause when he said nothing in reply. I still had no bad vibe that anything was amiss, so I finally broke the silence and asked, “May I help you?”

The News. The gentleman closest to me, who turned out to be the coroner, asked if they could come in. Not suspecting any harm, even though I did not yet know who they were, I stepped back and let them in. The coroner invited me to sit down in the living room. I thought this was odd that they were inviting me to sit down in my own home. I let the two men sit on the couch while I grabbed a dining room chair and sat facing them. The coroner asked again about my identity, but when I offered to show him my driver’s license, he said it would not be necessary. It seemed awkward at the time, but later, I realized he wanted to be sure he was about to give the news he had to the right person.

Without any introduction to who they were, the coroner, sitting directly opposite me, looked me straight in the eye with poise and a quiet calm and simply stated, “Your daughter was riding her bike on Highway 45 and was hit by a car and killed.”

Find out next week what happened then. How did I react? What did I do? Where were the girls? It’s not what you might think. As I mentioned 2 weeks ago in the May 9th post, this is a happy ending story, but as is often the case, there is a valley before there is a mountaintop. I hope you will join me again and follow this story to see what great things God did through all this.

Thanks for stopping by–I appreciate your support! Please feel free to share my posts and site with others. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

Oops, There Are Holes in My Story!

Losing My Way. Sooo, a funny thing happened on my way to an errand one fine day. The errand was at a new location, so I checked MapQuest and found the most direct route going south about 7 miles and then east for about 5. Easy-peasy even without a GPS in the van—except, it turned out there was a crawling stretch of construction. I completed my errand easily enough, but decided on a different route home to avoid the previous traffic bottleneck. I was into the next county before I realized I had driven too far north. I began to look for a thoroughfare going west, so I could head back toward home. The road I chose ended up at a T intersection.

Dead End. Not wanting to go any farther north, I turned left/south, only to find it ended up at what looked like the back parking lot of a two-story industrial building. What in the world was this place? I couldn’t find a sign for the business, and when I maneuvered my van to turn around, I saw a small road, kind of rural, off to the right. It was just asphalt to grass with no curbs like I’d seen in my childhood hometown, so I decided to take it. A short way in, however, something did not seem right. The road was only wide enough for one vehicle. What were drivers supposed to do if someone was coming from the opposite direction? There were lovely ranch-styled homes to my right and hilly, grassy terrain to my left. I looked for a driveway to pull into should I meet another driver, but oddly, none of the homes had driveways, just doors and picture windows.

Oops! Suddenly, two men in golf carts drove slowly past looking at me with odd expressions. Oh no, I was driving on a golf cart path! Embarrassed, I tried to look focused as if I knew what I was doing scoping out the greens like a groundskeeper. Then, a kid on a bike showed up coming toward me, and his eyes grew wide as saucers! He turned around and high-tailed outta there!

Footbridge Ahead. Still looking for a driveway, I realized I was seeing the back side of the homes overlooking the golf course. I kept driving forward wondering what to do, but now there was a small footbridge to cross! If I tried to turn the van around, the wide sweeping circle would ruin the grass, but I wondered if the van weight would collapse the little bridge. Should I drive over it quickly or slowly? I perceived the width of the van would fit and decided moving slowly over it would be safer. If the van collapsed the bridge, it would be hung up on both banks of the tiny creek. Thankfully, I made it over the bridge.

End in Sight. I drove over hills and curves repeatedly wondering when this nightmare would end. My armpits were sweating as I covered the entire length of the golf course in my van! Finally, I saw what looked to be a parking lot ahead and a gentleman with a company shirt in a golf cart. I stopped for help, and he was already smirking. “You’re on a golf course!” he chuckled. “I know that now; how can I get out of here?” He thought the van would fit through two yellow posts that bordered the parking lot.

Back in Familiar Territory. I barely made it through the parking posts to get onto the parking lot and make my way back onto a road. I immediately recognized the equestrian farms in the area and was happy to find my way home. Ya know what my errand was? Getting my driver’s license renewed!

I laughed and laughed all the way home!!

Hope that cheers you ’til next time. Feel free to share this–I won’t mind :)!

Launch Day: Traffic Court

1. Posted May 2, 2020, From Forgiveness to Friendship

“….and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

-Micah 6:8, ESV

Court Room 404. My friend Linda and I sat next to each other on a long wooden pew bench in county traffic court waiting for the judge and attorneys to return from his chambers. Linda and her husband were awaiting their son’s trial and the judge’s decision. While driving to a volunteer job, their son James had accidentally hit a young lady riding her bike, and she had died within an hour. The judge and attorneys on both sides were conferring before the trial. I had decided to take the day off from work to attend the hearing and sit with them. I wanted to support their family and hear the court’s decision.

An Immediate Connection. I met Linda and her family five months earlier at church. James was a twenty-seven-year-old high functioning young man with special needs but with an IQ that was actually higher than his mom’s. Since I worked at a college for students with similar disabilities, his needs and our shared faith gave Linda and me an immediate connection. I loved her as a dear friend and sister in Christ from the start, and we were walking this tragic situation together.

A Special Young Man. How my heart went out to them! With James’s disabilities in mind, I was concerned about how he would get over this. Would he obsess about the accident repeatedly? How would he move forward? What would the judge say? My husband and I had hoped and prayed James would not go to jail. We could not imagine how a young man like him could survive prison.

The Judge Enters. Fifteen minutes had passed since the attorneys and judge had entered his chambers for a private meeting. They re-entered the courtoom at the front; the judge entered last. The stern demeanor he held with earlier traffic cases had changed. Even with his commanding height and black robe, his expression now looked softer, but I had only a moment to ponder why before an attorney called James and his parents to the bench. Linda and her husband stood and approached with James stationed between them.

Then, unexpectedly, the state’s attorney called my name to also step forward.

The judge had something to say to me because–the young lady killed on the bike was my daughter.

Stay tuned! This is where our story begins. Actually, it begins six months earlier, but I’ll tell you about that in Blog 2, “Happy Birthday, Anna.”