Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Mysterious Visitor & A Message from the Grave

Fall 1997.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Pretentiously ornate, the state Capitol in Pennsylvania provides a grandiose backdrop for political drama at its finest. Dedicated by Teddy Roosevelt and built with the dirty influence of steel magnates in the early 1900s, the building represents all that which Americans find intriguing and insidious about their politicians.

Atop a sweeping marble staircase in a high-domed Rotunda adorned with murals ... was my office.

I'd scoot up the steps in spindly heels, pass through a door into a hidden hallway and enter the press corps's domain. Our Associated Press bureau had its own room apart from reporters of other newspapers, on the right. We were central to the action, and equally easy to find.

So it was no surprise that, even from her grave, Joy found me there.

I was clicking out a story on a clunky late-90s PC when a door knock stopped me. A young man shyly peeked in.

"Can we help you?" my bureauchief asked.

"I'm looking for Heidi."

I smiled and nodded at him, expecting this to be a lawmaker's intern with a press release in hand. But when he returned my gaze, I knew this was more than about a news story.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Joy has died. She's sent me here with a letter for you. She asked me to hand-deliver it. I've driven up here from Maryland to find you."

All action in the room halted. My co-workers looked up from their keyboards at me curiously. The bureauchief coughed nervously and suggested that I take the conversation elsewhere.

Feeling dizzy, I suggested to my visitor to sit with me on a small marble bench outside the door at the top of the Rotunda stair.

He silently handed me the letter, my name on the envelope written in Joy's feminine and loopy style.

"When did she die? Why didn't I know?"

"She didn't want you to know. She just wanted to pass away quietly without sadness. She gave me this letter and expressly said you weren't to know until I saw you face to face and could hand this to you myself."

I stared open-mouthed at this kind person, amazed that he'd travel three hours and actually track me down.

"We worked together," he explained. "She was a good friend. She talked about you all the time. She wanted to make sure that you knew how much she loved you."

He stood up.

"I've done what I came to do. I'm sorry to shock you like this, but I should really leave so that you can read that alone."

I nodded. "Thank you."

He turned and trotted down the staircase. My hands shook as I opened the envelope and read Joy's message from the grave.

She wanted me to know that before she died, she'd accepted Jesus as her Savior.
She wanted me to know that I wasn't to grieve. She was in Heaven with Him.
She would see me again.
She asked that I check on her little girl from time to time.
And she said she loved me.

I sat there for about 20 minutes, staring at the beauty around me and not quite sure how to feel.

She was gone. My friend was gone.

But my atheist friend had found Jesus before she took her last breath, and she was with Him.

And I would see her again. Her handwriting, a tangible memory of her, gave me the assurance that even at that moment, she was still very much alive ... just in another realm, the spiritual realm, no longer trapped in her body of pain.

But what's the upshot of all of this?

What did I take away from my friendship with Joy and what I learned about sharing Jesus with others?

We'll talk about it tomorrow. I hope you stop by.

No comments:

Post a Comment