After a painful event, a Special Visitor tells George why Linda visited them and not me.
| Linda and I had been married 11 ½ wonderful, romantic years. I’d been able to prove to her early on that her epilepsy made no difference in my love for her. What neither of us knew was that this particular day would be like no other in that time.
Monday, March 3, 1980. Things were even more different this morning than the last couple days. She was up to have breakfast with me. And we hadn't done that on a weekday for a long, long time. It felt great
"Whatcha doing tonight?"
"Well, I told dad I'd be up to help him with a problem on that upright he's working on. What about you, Lin?"
"There's an inspection I could go to, but I'm having trouble lining up a ride. I'll have supper on time anyhow. That way we're both covered."
About 15 minutes later, I headed for the door. She tagged along.
"See you tonight, honey." I warmly embraced and kissed her. "I love you," I said, feeling an unusual amount of emotion in that statement.
“I love you, Jim. Have a good day." She smiled and I squeezed her again.
That evening, I was a trifle late getting home, arriving about 6:00, but supper was ready, as she had promised, so I was able to avoid losing more time. I wanted to stop at Henry's electronics shop and ask him a question about the tape unit in the truck, and he closed at 7:00.
"I don't have a ride yet, so I'll probably be here when you get home," she said as we got up from the table. She smiled and winked at me.
"I might just change my mind about going," I said with a grin as I walked up and made a physical pass at her. She stepped up to me without saying a word, put her hands on my shoulders, and slowly slid them down my chest. Gently pressing her right hand into my crotch for a lingering moment, she put her arms around me and laid her head on my chest.
“I love you, Jim!” she said gently, and with more emotion in her voice than I’d heard for a long time. “I’ve always been so very thankful that you didn’t walk away like everyone else. I just feel like I haven’t been able to find a way to really show you how much I love you and how very much you mean to me. I hope and pray that I’ll get that chance. I’d like you to know how I really, truly feel about you. How very deeply I really do love you.”
“Don’t you think I know how you feel after all these years, darling?” I asked gently, trying to let her know that I understood and she didn’t have to worry herself about it to that level anymore. I found myself enjoying the intimacy but wondering why, or how, an innocent, loving pass that I’d made at her so many times over the years should bring it out right then.
"I know what you’re saying, sweetheart, and I love you for it. But I don’t think there are words that can tell you what I really want to convey. It’s not just in my heart, honey, it’s become part of what I am. And words don’t convey that kind of feeling.”
Moments later she seemed her old self again, as if she’d found her answer or turned that one over to the Lord to solve. I made another pass at her.
"Go on, get outta here," she laughed, punching me with that proverbial elbow. "Plenty of time for that tonight."
"Okay, okay, I'm going," I grinned.
Moments after leaving Henry’s, a new output jack installed on the cassette tape player, I passed within 2 blocks of the apartment. I suddenly remembered my piano tuning kit was still there. I dropped by to grab it.
"What're you doing back so soon?" Lin called as I entered.
"Forgot my tuning kit."
"By the way," I called back as she continued her work in the kitchen, "there's a chance I might be working part-time for Henry. He's looking at getting into that new minicomputer thing for doing his paperwork as well as selling them. I'll fill you in when I get home."
As I spoke, I suddenly noticed that the whole place was just about immaculate. No dust anywhere. The bed was even made. "First time she's done that in weeks!" I said to my-self. "Gotta find out what's going on." I headed for the kitchen.
"Hey, Squeek, what's gotten into you all of a sudden? It's not like you to dive into housework like this. This whole place is in A-1 shape. Uh...you wouldn't be hiding something from me would you?" I asked, smiling with a sudden thought, "Like a baby?"
"No, I'm not hiding anything," she laughed. "No, I'm not pregnant. But I wish I was," she finished, a little wistfully. "No, I can't really explain all this. I just suddenly felt like doing everything around here at once. Everything I've neglected. I don't know. I got this feeling yesterday. It's a weird way to feel, and it hasn't left yet. I guess it will when I get everything done."
I hugged her. "See you later, beautiful. And don't let that feeling bother you. If it's still bugging you when I get home, I'll uh...take your mind off it for awhile," I said, caressing her as I spoke the words.
"Right. I should’ve known," she said, smiling. "See you later, honey."
"Bye-bye," I said, heading through the living room for the door.
"Bye-bye. And don't forget to tell me about Henry. I love you. "
"I won't. Promise. I love you, too, sweetheart." I closed the door, jumped in the truck and took off for my parents' place.
I began piano work that night at 7:30 p.m.
At 9:15 P.M., Linda’s parents sat down at the bar in their family room for a few rounds of double solitaire.
A half hour later, Linda, still at home, enters the bathroom. As she stands with her back to the sink, she leans forward. A seizure strikes. As always, she lets out that ear-splitting yell, her head turns to the left, and every muscle in her body contracts. She becomes rigid as a board, as she's always done. But this time she was also leaning forward. And the muscle contractions that made her legs rigid also propelled her, with tremendous force, toward the tile wall over the bathtub on the opposite side of the room…
I had just completed a particular restoration operation and reached a convenient stop-ping point. I looked at my watch. "9:45 p.m. 'Lou Grant' comes on at 10:00. The logical thing to do is use that 15 minutes in restoration. But what can I accomplish in just 15 minutes?" For the first time since I could conveniently remember, my "totally logical, computer-oriented mind", that had driven Linda humorously buggy so often, was at a loss for a decision, a course of action. And I just couldn't understand why.
At that very same instant, as their current game proceeded, George suddenly saw a "light-colored shadow" come over his right shoulder from behind and pause briefly, flickering, just behind Ginny and above her left shoulder. He stared, totally absorbed now, as it slowly passed further away from them, toward the opposite, far end of that family room, passing slowly and low, as if remembering, over the long dimension of that same pool table where Linda and I had first confessed our love for each other 14 years before. Then, ascending in height as it continued, it paused again as it touched the ceiling above the center of that far wall, then slowly vanished through the ceiling of that family room, not to be seen again. Fascinated, he remained motionless for just a moment.
"Yachtzee, are you all right?"
That harmless, loving inquiry bolted him back to reality. One last fleeting, puzzled thought of that "spectacle" he'd just witnessed, and the game continued.
Linda had passed away.
Over the next few days, dad (George) was a rock the rest of us could lean on. At least I found I could. How he held up I had no clue, considering how close he and Linda had always been. But I'm glad he did. He even helped me make the funeral arrangements. Looking back, that part of it might have been easier for him than I thought it would at the time; he very likely cherished the chance to be part of the process rather than feeling like an outsider.
Thursday evening, following the visitation, as her mom, dad and I sat at the bar in the family room, the "Rock of Gibraltar" finally crumbled.
"I realized something last night," dad began. I could tell he was getting more emotional with each word.
"What was it, honey?" mom asked gently.
"I finally realized what it was that I saw Monday night." Now the tears really started. "It was.....Linda's soul. She ....was...saying....goodbye."
Saying those last few words broke the dam. The tears flowed freely now. He laid his head on the bar and openly wept. We said nothing; there was nothing to be said. Shortly, he had composed himself enough to finish the thought:
"She...she was telling us...not to worry...That she...is really...happy now. B...but I only wish… I'd known it then."
As he finished, I had a sudden feeling of being "alone" or "left out" come over me from head to toe. To myself I thought. “Why would she say goodbye to them and not to me? With that thought on the forefront of my mind, I openly cried now, too. "Why not me?" I finally sputtered aloud. Mom put a hand on my shoulder. That simple show of love and affection, sympathy and support felt great. The simple things again. Only it didn't really answer my question. And it had not been intended as a rhetorical question. I needed to know.
Thing was, the real support at that moment came from dad. Again. As broken up as he had been just moments before, he was still able to look at me with an expression of love and understanding, yes. But this time there was something else in that look, too. A solid feeling of "I know why and I'll tell you when we're alone."
About 10:00, as he drove me home, my mind had gotten onto the same thought. It had never really left, I guess. I just couldn't seem to understand why she'd say farewell to them and not to me. After all we had meant to each other. The tears were flowing freely as I restated the question I felt into words. We were about halfway to the apartment. Once I'd gotten it out of my system into the open, and finished, dad began:
"Jim, I couldn't say this back there, around Ginny, and you'll know why in a minute. But Linda had a very good reason for what she did that night. You know how much she loved all of us, right?"
"And how much she loved the Lord. Right?"
“Jim, she told me a number of times how close both of you felt to Him.
"So?" I asked, not sarcastically, but rather with a sincere touch of curiosity and a genuine desire to know where this was leading.
"Jim, she saw a chance to help someone she loved one more time. She knew your faith could withstand her passing. And she also knew that her mother's faith is a little shaky. Has been for a little while. She knew a first-hand experience would be a tremendous boost for her mother's faith in the end. Jim, she didn't do it because she loved us more than you; you of all people should know that."
"I do, dad. But I think that's also why I wondered. You understand?"
"Yes, Jim. Just remember: She did it because that's the way she was. Always wanting to help people if she could, let alone those she loved the most."
"You're right, dad." And he was. "That's exactly the way she was. Looking back, with that knowledge, it all seems to fit. You know, the idea that she'd be that way right to the end. That sort of thing. With the zeal she had for baseball, for life itself, it really makes sense. And things like making me happy (remember that “devotion to duty”?), and the Chapter. We meant so very much more. It really does figure." I was really calming down, now. And it showed. But there was one thing I still needed to know. "Dad, how did you find all this out? I mean... how did you come to this conclusion?"
"I...um...didn't, Jim. It's eerie. You remember those few times you and Linda told Ginny and I about how the two of you were so close to Him that you had been ‘Baptized in the Spirit’, and Linda had a 'prayer language' and all that?
"Yeah. Go on," I urged him, as I smiled inside. I knew what was coming, now, and I was ready to burst with joy. But I couldn't show it. Not yet. He had to say it. For himself.
"Well, Ginny and I were both a little skeptical. Her more than me. You know how close I’ve always felt to Him, with Lodge and everything. But I still wasn't quite ready for that one. Anyway, um...I didn't figure any of this thing out. I mean any of it. Not only what it was I saw, but why she did it. Um...He told me. All of it. Last night. It's a great feeling, isn't it?" He shut off the engine after pulling in my driveway.
"Yes, it is, dad. Now you're beginning to find out what we meant." I smiled, thinking to myself, “And dad, I don’t think mom’s faith was the ONLY reason all this took place. Looks to me like He’s using it to get you a step closer to Him, and to the Spirit.” I didn’t say that aloud, though. Since he’s still tentative on it, it’s better to leave the timing up to the Lord. Only this time I felt sure it would eventually happen. I just wouldn’t have any idea how soon. But that was fine. It wasn’t exactly mandatory that I be aware of those details. I smiled inside, again.
"Yeah, but...why choose me? I'm not into the Spirit like you two."
"Dad, the Bible says that He will make use of even non-believers to bring about His Kingdom. So why not make use of His Believers as well? Let alone the fact that it lets us feel the satisfaction of contributing something worthwhile to this world."
Now he was smiling, a little. "Goodnight, dad." I got out of the car.
"Goodnight, Jim. See you for breakfast tomorrow. Right?"
"Right. See you then. And thanks, dad. I love you. Pass that on to mom, will you?"
As I slowly, thoughtfully walked up the front walk to the door of the building, he backed out and headed home.