Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I
sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally
had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense, I found
it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, mother clapped loudest
at my school plays, held a box of tissue while listening to my first
heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college,
and prayed for me my entire life. When mother's illness was diagnosed,
my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood
sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27 year old middle child with no
entanglements to take care of her. I felt it an honor.
"What now, Lord?" I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before
me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the
cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her
husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. All
so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our
mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor,
seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was gone.
My work was finished, and I was alone.
I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick steps
hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around
briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on
his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle, "I'm
late," he explained, though no explanation was unnecessary.
After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep
calling Mary by the name of Margaret?"
"Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her Mary,
"I whispered." I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other
side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting.
Who was this stranger anyway?
"No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over at
us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters. That isn't who this is?
Isn't this the Lutheran church?"
"No, the Lutheran church is across the street, I believe you're at the wrong
funeral, sir." The solemn ness of the occasion mixed with realization of the
man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands
over my face hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me
away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more
hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was
laughing too, as he glanced around deciding it was too late for an uneventful
exit. I imagined my mother laughing. At the final Amen, we darted out a door
and into the parking lot. "I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled.
He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, he
asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey
for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right
place. A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where
he was the assistant pastor.
This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of
sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This
past June we celebrated our twenty second anniversary. Whenever anyone asks
us how we met, Rick tells them "Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us,"
and it's truly a match made in Heaven...