Visitor restores light after dark days
By David Milotta
Sandy's stricken face confirmed the sinking feeling in my stomach. I had overheard her shocked voice. Something bad had happened.
"That was my mother on the phone," she said as she closed the bedroom door.
"You remember Mom and Dad drove down to Texas to be with Tari for the birth." She looked at me hoping for recollection in my eyes.
"Dad was hit from behind by a car while he was jogging this morning. He died instantly. Mom and Tari had to go to the scene to identify him. Tari's having labor induced tomorrow." There was a catch in her voice.
Husbands have to be strong sometimes, and all I could do was hug my wife. Trying to suppress my tears I prayed, "Dear Lord, we need your strength and healing for the days ahead."
The death was heart-wrenching for the family, especially for his wife, Dorothy. My father-in-law, Dr. George McLarren, was a pacesetter in the field of rehabilitative medicine. He was an advocate of a healthy lifestyle that included a good nutritional diet and regular exercise. At age 70, he was still a daily jogger. Ironically, that is what got him killed.
George and Dorothy had driven down from their home in Spokane, Wash., to San Antonio to support their daughter, Tari, who was about to give birth to her second child. As George took his usual early morning run, he was hit from behind and instantly killed by a sleepy driver whose car swerved off the road.
Tari gave birth the next day, and my niece was joyously greeted in this world by a heroic grieving family. For Dorothy, the emotional shock of George's death was temporarily covered by the welcome role of helpful grandmother.
The memorial service, a week later, provided healing for many. I spoke and learned the important lesson of always having a handkerchief handy. My eyes were OK, but my nose betrayed me.
For Dorothy, the grieving continued. Despite consolation from church friends and pastoral counseling, she was troubled in her soul. The pain of George's death was sucking the joy from her life. I was of little help, offering more theology than comfort.
About one year later, when Sandy and I visited Dorothy in Spokane, there was a big difference in her countenance. She was less anxious and more at peace within herself. She had gotten her emotional feet under her and her smile was back. I commented on her marked improvement and she told me of an amazing encounter.
"One night I was sleeping fretfully, which had become common since George's passing. I got up about 4 a.m. to get a glass of water from the refrigerator. As I walked down the hallway toward the kitchen, all of a sudden I was startled by a bright light." She grabbed my arm, adding, "Right here, standing in this hallway."
Pointing to the spot she said, "I saw the figure of a man clothed in blinding light, as bright as the incandescence of a light bulb."
Dorothy continued: "The light softened and my heart exploded with joy as I recognized the man. I knew it was George, except he looked younger and more vigorous. He was overflowing with glorious radiant light. He spoke to me with words that my heart and soul could understand."
The figure then faded away, and "relief flooded my soul," Dorothy said. "His presence assured me that everything would be all right."
God has a wonderful way of healing over time. Since that tragic event more than 20 years ago, Dorothy has been blessed with good health and surrounded by her loving family. Recently, she attended the wedding of her eldest granddaughter.