By Teresa LeNeave
Just over a year ago, I put Michael on a Greyhound bus headed for Norfolk, Virginia. As his foot sat firmly on the first step, he turned and smiled from ear to ear. He was tall and way too thin, but he still looked handsome. He was 38-years-old, but when he smiled he still looked like a child to me. “I love ya,” he said with a big grin, then dragged his one little black worn-out travel bag onto the bus finding a seat near the middle. “I love you, too,” I yelled over the roar of the bus engine. The night air was a little bit nippy so I sat in my car as I watched the bus pull out onto Highway 62. Michael watched me from the window and waved goodbye a couple times. I felt so troubled. I thought, “I wish I could have taken him down another path of life.” I cried.
He didn’t have an easy life and often his choices made it hard not only on himself, but his family as well. Driving to the bus station, knowing he was probably hungry, I asked him, “Do you want to stop for supper so you won’t be hungry on the bus tonight?”
“Eat now?” he asked. It was 11 o’clock at night.
“Well, it’d keep you from being hungry later.”
“I’m hungry a lot so I’m used to that,” he said. “I don’t eat very often. Sometimes if I get hungry I just get a candy bar for 65 cents. I guess we could get a couple candy bars.”
“Candy bars? Michael that is why you’re so skinny. You don’t get any nutrition from a candy bar.”
He laughed and said that was all he wanted to take with him. When he got out of the car, I gave him some money in case he changed his mind and wanted actual food. To my surprise, he didn’t want the money, but I insisted.
Just four months later, he had a heart attack and was on life support for a couple months. He never recovered and just a week ago he went to meet the Lord.
In all that, and all the suffering he’s gone through this past year, God’s mercy has been so evident. We have so much to be thankful for. About four weeks ago, he had another heart attack. But, by God’s mercy, he was delivered from what could have been a major wreck, perhaps killing himself, the girl riding in the truck with him, or someone else on the highway.
He said he and a girlfriend had been out much of the day; mostly just driving around in Cherokee, NC where he lived. He pulled up to a stop light and instantly fell over, unconscious, from another massive heart attack. The girl with him administered CPR while the ambulance was on its way. As quickly as possible, he was air-lifted to Mission Hospital where he was on life support again.
Now, how could one not believe in God’s mercy? A heart attack minutes before or after that exact stop at the stop light might have resulted in a vehicle accident and possible death to others on the highway. He owned the best truck he’d ever owned in his life and God was merciful enough to even spare that from being destroyed. The last time I talked to him, three days before he passed on, he was talking about his truck and wondering if it had taken to his house. He said he wanted to make sure it was there when he got out of the hospital.
Isn’t God so good? There is no time that God is not with us. In Psalms, David said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer … my shield … my stronghold”. He gives us peace in the time of trouble and comforts the grieving heart.
As mentioned before, I wish I could have taken him down another path in life, but that didn’t happen. This one thing I know, God’s mercy supersedes judgment. He’s proven it in my own life, so I speak solely from experience. Paul said, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God …” (Rom. 8:38).
As we sorrow for a life-too-soon-extinguished, we take comfort in knowing that many of you have lost husbands, wives, children and other family members. God comforted you and He will be our comfort as well. So, to Michael who deserved so much more in life than he got, “We love you”.
….Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NKJV