The Cemetery Miracle

View over a cemetery in Belgium, 2010.

And you think you’ve got problems?

A short while back, just a few days ago, I wrote about my friend William who died of cancer. I was his legal guardian, his friend, and basically all the “family” he had. William had met and married a woman, Rebecca, in a nursing home before I ever met him. I’d like to share about what happened to Rebecca after William’s passing.

While William was living I’d been able to help Rebecca, as his wife, too. After William died I tried to find a legal guardian for her but without much luck. All of the other people involved, caseworkers, caregivers at the group home William and Rebecca lived in, everyone who knew me through William, well, the popular thought was that I should become Rebecca’s guardian. I honestly didn’t think it was a good idea at first. I thought it would be better for Rebecca to have a lady as her guardian, someone who could take her to beauty parlors, talk makeup, things like that. But, like I said, I looked for someone without any luck so I became Rebecca’s guardian. I could tell stories, but there’s only one that I want to tell you about for now.

There were several group homes in the area and every week they’d load a van with residents of one and take them to visit the folks living in one of the others. It worked really well. People made friends and socialized. It was a nice touch. And at one of the other homes Rebecca developed a relationship with one of the guys. Ah ha! Rebecca had a boyfriend. 🙂

Shortly after having found the new beau the nightmares started. Rebecca began having horrible dreams. She was sent to a psychologist who worked with her for a short while and did a very good job of getting to the root of the problem. Rebecca was having bad dreams because she had the boyfriend but needed closure with William. There had never been a funeral, which thing would have helped provide closure, because William had been cremated. We had a memorial service but with one of those you don’t get to walk up to the coffin and say good-bye. The psychologist suggested to Rebecca that she ask me to take her to William’s grave so that she could talk to him, explain that she still loved him but that she had a boyfriend now and say good-bye.

Well, you know, the logic was perfect. I could see that, and knowing Rebecca I understood that this was exactly what she needed. Three cheers for the psychologist. But there was no grave. Unless you counted the dresser drawer I kept the box containing William’s ashes in. You see I’d never explained to Rebecca about the cremation and neither had anyone else. Rebecca, mentally challenged as she was, wouldn’t have understood. Think about it. They burned him up?! Wouldn’t that hurt?! William’s body had been taken to a crematorium in another city, Rebecca knew he’d been taken there and thought that’s where he was buried and we just all kept our mouths shut and let her think that. And that worked just fine. Until now.

Thankfully Rebecca, being challenged in a variety of ways, didn’t have a good concept of time, distance, or direction. The city William had been taken to was a hundred miles away. So, being thankful in this instance, given the circumstances, for Rebecca’s limitations, we set out for a town about thirty miles away. Rebecca wouldn’t know the difference. What I’d do when we got there, honestly I had no clue.

I pulled into a convenience store with the excuse of going in to buy cigars. I smoked back then. So I walk up to the counter, asked for a five pack of Garcia Vega, and said: “Where’s the cemetery?” And the clerk said: “Which one?” And I say: “It doesn’t matter.” I got a really odd look and directions with my cigars. I get back in the car and we stop at Wally World so that Rebecca can buy flowers for William’s grave. So far so good.

Playing it by ear, and prayerfully bending God’s ear all the while, we pulled into the cemetery. Rebecca couldn’t read or write but she could spell and sign her name. I asked Rebecca if she’d recognize William’s name on the headstone if she saw it. (“Please say no, please say no, please God let her say no.”) And Rebecca said: “Yes.”

Great. So here we are in just any ol’ cemetery looking for a nonexistent grave that Rebecca REALLY needs to find so that her nightmares will stop and she can go on with her life. I told her to go look over there while I looked over here. (“Please God, please God, please … “)

Oh, geez, what am I gonna do now? If I ever needed a miracle … And I heard Rebecca call out: “I found it.” OK. Never look a gift miracle in the mouth. I walk over and there was a stone with a very similar name that Rebecca mistook for William’s. (“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.”) And Rebecca talked to William, explained things to him, told him she loved him, and gave him flowers. Closure. The nightmares ceased. And limited though she was she was whole again.

There are times in our lives when we don’t have a clue. Maybe we aren’t supposed to. Maybe when we’re clueless it gives us an opportunity to exercise our faith and God the chance to work with us, even with all our limitations. And limited as we are He makes us whole again anyway.

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Published in: on May 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm  Comments Off on The Cemetery Miracle  
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