Donna fought back hot tears as she sat quietly in the back pew, trying to appear invisible. Big, fat droplets of moisture rolled down her cheeks, the drizzle threatening to become a downpour. “Stop it,” Donna admonished herself silently as she discreetly wiped each cheek with the back of her hand. “This is not going to happen here. Or now.”
Pastor Johnson had been speaking for a short time, but to Donna it seemed like hours. She knew this was where she needed be at a time like this, but still she didn’t want to answer the questions she knew the others wanted to ask. She didn’t feel like putting on a happy face. She hoped to slip out quietly just as soon as the choir began to sing the final hymn.
Donna’s eyes drifted toward the familiar spot just a few rows ahead to her left. Their spot. The place where she and Teddy had sat almost every Sunday for the past 22 years, surrounded by the people who had been like their second family. With both of them living so far away from their own natural families, this congregation had filled the gap and lovingly drawn them into the community. They truly had become family.
“Oh, God,” Donna closed her eyes and silently prayed, “Please help me understand why this happened. Help me to climb this overwhelming mountain of grief and uncertainty. God, help me understand how I could have been so blind to Teddy’s struggles. Help me forgive myself for not seeing the depth of his pain, and help me forgive Teddy for choosing to leave this world instead of reaching out for help. Oh Lord, I need to feel Your love and know that I will survive the destruction that is my life right now.”
As she prayed, Donna hadn’t noticed that someone had slipped into the pew beside her. She became aware of Pastor Johnson’s familiar “winding down” at the end of his sermon and slowly opened her eyes. It was then that she saw little Becky Thompson sitting beside her, looking up at Donna with innocent blue eyes. Donna tried to muster up a smile, but found her eyes brimming with tears again.
Becky leaned in toward Donna, whispering in her quietest five year old voice, “What’s wrong, Miss Donna?”
“I’m just a little sad, Becky.” Donna whispered back, fighting the tears, “You know my husband Mr. Teddy passed away last week.”
Becky nodded, “My momma told me, Miss Donna. She said Mr. Teddy was sick and went home to be with Jesus.”
“That’s right, Becky,” Donna told her, “and I’m just missing him a little bit right now.”
“Miss Donna, can I tell you a secret?” Becky whispered.
“Sure, Becky, I’d love to hear your secret.”
“When my daddy died last year, I was really sad. I missed him a lot and I felt like my tummy had a big hole in it. My momma told me that it was okay to miss my daddy, but that he wouldn’t want me to go around with that big hole in my tummy.”
Donna smiled at Becky, “What else did your momma say?”
“She told me that there was only one thing that would fill that hole, but it was up to me if I wanted to let it get filled.”
“What was that one thing, Becky?”
“It was love, Miss Donna. Momma said there were angels right here on earth that could help me fill that hole that was left when my daddy died. I just had to let them in.”
Donna felt her eyes filling with fresh tears as she put her arm around Becky.
“There’s one of the angels, Miss Donna,” Becky said, pointing to Mrs. Davis, a sweet little gray-haired lady who had been one of the first to welcome Donna and Teddy over 20 years ago. “There’s another,” she went on, nodding toward Bert Jones, the choir director.
Donna couldn’t speak. She just sat in the pew with Becky, in awe of the magnificent way in which God had had answered her prayer.
Becky began again, “You know, Miss Donna, you can get that hole in your tummy filled too. All you have to do is know where to look for the angels.”
Donna smiled through her tears and pulled Becky tightly to her side, “I know just where to look, Becky. I know just where to look.”
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