I used to think that having a bad day meant being stuck in a traffic jam, the kids not getting their naps or my hair not going just right. It’s funny how perspective can change in a moment.
This was my moment...
I was busy preparing dinner – lasagna, my husband’s favorite. The kids were at the zoo with my mom and due back in a half hour, about the same time I expected Matt. I checked my watch. Yep, his shift was just ending. He’d walk in all sweaty from his construction job and have barely enough time to grab a quick shower before dinner.
The phone rang just as I popped the lasagna in the oven.
“Jan, it’s me.”
I smiled. “Hey, me. Are you on your way home? Because I’m making—“
“No.” His voice was sharp, yet soft at the same time.
I frowned. “Are you still mad about this morning? Matt, I’m really sorry...”
“It’s not that.”
Something wasn’t right. A random butterfly suddenly took off in the pit of my gut.
“What’s wrong?” I whispered.
He didn’t answer. My heart pounded.
“Matty? Are you there?”
“There’s been...an…accident...on the site. We...don’t know what - it all happened so fast...”
My grip tightened on the phone and I jammed my ear into the receiver. I didn’t want to ask. But I had no choice. I swallowed. “Are you...okay?”
A short burst of breath. Then a sound that resembled a sob. “No...I’m…bleeding pretty bad. Trapped under a pile of rubble. It hurts, Jan.” His voice broke.
I swallowed the bitter bile as tears flooded my eyes, streaming over the rims to my cheeks. “We need to get off the phone! I’ll call 9-1-1. They’ll get you out, Matt!”
“Help’s already on the way. But it’s...it's bad. I don’t think I’ll -”
I choked on my sobs and shook my head violently. “No! Don’t say it, Matt. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be just fine.”
“I love you, Jan.” His voice was a whisper.
I placed my hand over my mouth to muffle my cries. The last thing he needed was to hear me falling apart. He was going to be okay. I just needed to keep him talking. “About this morning...”
“It does matter. I should never have said those things. I’m so sorry...”
“I know.” He paused, gasping for breath.
My chest tightened. “Matty! Honey, don’t leave me! Just hang on, baby, help is coming! Please! The kids and I can’t live without you!” I wept fiercely, then, shoulders heaving, and the walls closed in around me. After several seconds of uncontrollable anguish, I took in a couple of deep breaths, trying to compose myself. For Matty's sake.
All was silent, except for the sound of my heart, pulsing in my ears. I stood, statue-like, listening for breathing...movement...some small sign that he was still there.
“Pray with me.” His voice cut through the phone line and I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
The words I’d dreamed of hearing my husband say. My non-believing, agnostic husband. I’d longed for this day. How many times over the years had I cried out to God, asking Him to change my husband’s heart? How many arguments had ensued over his unwillingness to accept the truth that there was a God who loved him enough to die for him? Arguments like the one that morning...
But not like this; it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
With a voice and a strength not my own, I prayed with my husband. And after all these years, he finally accepted Christ into his heart.
Only seconds before Christ accepted Matty into eternity...
It’s been four years since that moment. The moment my perspective changed. But, yet, when I think about that day, I smile. Not only because I am grateful to have spent those last few moments on the phone with my husband, it was the moment I received a guarantee that I would see him again some day.
I'll be honest. It's still hard. But during the darkest times, Jesus reminds me that "hello" will come again. And when it does, there will never be another goodbye.
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