Mornings have always been hectic
at our house. The boys rush in from doing farm chores, scurry for
breakfast, and hustle to shower in time to meet the 7:15 school bus. The
morning after Mother's Day in 1973 was no exception. Thomas, age fourteen,
and Stephen, twelve, begged for a little more time so they could have bacon and
eggs instead of cold cereal.
"We'll ride our bikes to school," they said.
Their thirteen-year-old sister, Diane, decided to ride with them instead of taking the bus. As they charged out the door, Diane handed me a card.
"I forgot to give this to you yesterday. It's a Spiritual Bouquet. In the next few weeks I'll be saying lots of prayers for you." She gave me a quick kiss and was gone.
Minutes later Tommy called me from a neighbor's house, yelling "Mom, Diane's dead! A car hit her!"
Dead! She couldn't be dead. It must be a mistake. I flew from the house to the barn and shrieked to my husband, "John there's been an accident. We've got to go."
He grabbed his truck keys and as we headed down the road, I had an awful pain in my stomach. I knew in my heart that life would never be the same again.
When we arrived at the scene all we could see was Diane's mangled bike and her shoes lying on the side of the road.
The paramedic's were putting a stretcher into the ambulance. I screamed.
John latched onto my arm as the EMT said, "Follow us to Mercy Hospital."
At the hospital the doctor pronounced our daughter DOA. I couldn't even cry.
The next few days were a nightmare. We contacted relatives and made the necessary arrangements. During calling hours we greeted relatives, friends, and people we didn't even know. They all came to give their condolences and to share our grief. The room filled with the children's classmates and teachers. They knelt in prayer beside Diane, tears streaming down their innocent faces.
I noticed an old man standing by the casket. His skin looked like worn out shoe leather. His wrinkled hands were raised in prayer. When I approached him, he looked at me and smiled. "God must love you very much," he said. "He gives the hardest task to those He loves the most. He gave you one of his angels to care for and now he needs her back."
I looked around the room at the children praying. A bright circle of light appeared above their heads. I looked back toward the old man but he was gone.
The parochial school Diane attended closed the day of the funeral to allow her classmates and fellow students to attend the service. They played their guitars and sang Diane's favorite songs.
I said a prayer of thanksgiving that I'd been blessed with faith. Without it, how could one endure the awful pain?
Almost thirty years later, I still feel the pain of losing Diane. But as I read her Mother's Day card one more time, I am at peace, thanks to my angel's prayers.
"When the altar bells are tinkling
And the priest bends down in prayer:
Where the people bow adoring
I'll be praying for you there."