They stood there, Sadie with flowers outstretched and Ms. Moses with the stock of her old gun nestled beneath her arm. Neither one could tell you how long they stood that way, but slowly Ms. Moses began to lower the double barrel and Sadie felt herself exhale. She couldn’t remember in all of her twenty five years being so afraid. Even that time she was chased by a neighborhood dog couldn’t compare to this.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Moses” Sadie said quiet but firm. “I meant no harm. I was out on a lovely walk and spotted your cabin and thought I would introduce myself. My husband is the new pastor in town, Rev. Abe Henderson. Have you heard of him?”
Ms. Moses kept her gun hanging by her side, barrels facing the porch wood floor, she didn’t want this young lady to think she wasn’t able to take full care of herself. “I heard of ‘em.” She said and spit into a dirty brown can that sat at least two feet from her. Sadie didn’t know whether to be impressed or repulsed. She’d never been fond of chew and the mess it was. Her eyes grew wide as she realized what practice and skill it took to ring a can with a wad straight from your mouth.
The silence that followed was both awkward and amplified by the lack of words coming to Sadie’s mind. Come on, Sadie, she chided herself, say something.
“It’s nice to make your acquaintance.” She took two tentative steps toward the porch and when Ms. Moses didn’t lift her gun, she continued slowly until the only thing separating them was three old stairs. She held the daisies up to Ms. Moses, silently praying this horrible beginning to their new friendship might be rewritten with a gift from God’s creation. Ms. Moses didn’t reach out to receive them at first, she was still a little skeptical. She looked over Sadie’s head and from side to side to make sure no one was going to jump out from behind the trees. Never mind she had nothing of real value, she wasn’t taking any chances. She didn’t get to be this age by trusting folks right off, trust was something to be earned, she reckoned.
She lived her life on that principle.
Realizing Sadie wasn’t going to be put off, Ms. Moses finally reached out to take the daisies. Sadie’s already flushed face turned an even deeper shade of pink when Ms. Moses had to peel them from her sweaty hand. How embarrassing to hand her wilted, sweaty flowers, again she chided herself. Her heart was beating heavy but she stood her ground, smiling like any good pastor’s wife, of course.
“Thank ya” Ms. Moses said as she inspected the poor things. Probably shoulda left them alone to live out their short days than to pick ’em and give ’em to a stranger half dead, she thought. “Now see ya self on back to where ya come from.” Ms. Moses turned to walk back inside, leaving Sadie standing with her mouth open. “Um, thank you for…for…” Sadie couldn’t think what to say next. Thank you for pointing a gun in my face and scaring me to death didn’t seem like a great way to end the encounter. “For taking the flowers, I hope they brighten your day,” she raised her voice a little to be sure Ms. Moses could hear her before the sound of the screen door slapping on its frame stopped any further attempt at conversation.
Well, Sadie thought, this was a disaster. How was she supposed to be a successful pastor’s wife if she couldn’t even hold a conversation with one unfamiliar person? All the doubts and fears she thought she’d overcome came up like a flood in her heart. There’s no hope for you in this ministry, you will never be a blessing to others, you should stay home before you cause any more harm. You’ll never be a good pastor’s wife, Abe deserves someone better. On and on the thoughts went until she couldn’t walk fast enough to escape them.
She arrived home in a puddle of tears thankful Abe was not yet back to see her this way. She decided to check on her chickens. She loved to listen to them chatter. They were forgiving when she stuttered on her words and she never seemed to say anything that bothered them. “People are hard,” she told the Henrietta, one of her favorite hens, but she didn’t seem to notice.
Ms. Moses felt the breeze of the screen door slapping against the frame. It was chilly out this morning, the last thing she expected was a visitor. She couldn’t remember the last person who’d stopped by unannounced. Especially a pretty little thing like that. She was dressed in ill fitted work clothes, but her golden blonde hair and bright blue eyes spoke of privilege. She laughed lightly to herself as she set the double barrel against the wall. The old thing couldn’t shoot if it wanted to, it hadn’t worked since her husband, her thoughts stopped with the thought of him. Tears filled her eyes. Oh, how she missed him. Hard to believe it’d been a whole year. It still felt like yesterday when he would take the gun down and clean it, getting ready to hunt the next morning. He’d sit in front of the fire and hum old songs as he worked. Seems like he never had a bad day, always singing and occasionally scooping her up for a joyful dance around the small living room.
He was the best man she’d ever known.
She reached to close the door and headed to her rocking chair. It was covered in a quilt she’d made many years ago, back when times were sweeter and her beloved was still alive. Sitting next to it was a basket full of colored yarn. Goodness knows what she would do if she couldn’t crochet the long, lonely hours of the night away. She eased her stiff bones back into the chair and settled the quilt in comfortably around her. The fire was crackling as she laid her head back, her mind immediately wandered into prayer. Lord, these are hard days, but I know you haven’t forgotten me. I ain’t ready to let folks come around just yet, I know you understand. With that bittersweet thought in mind, she drifted into restless sleep.
The daisies, still in hand, fell to the floor one by one.
Loss affects us all so differently, but one thing is for sure…
Loss changes us.
There is no one size fits all program as we walk through unbearable pain, there’s only Jesus.
Jesus, time and the hard work that goes into healing will one day bring you to a place where you learn to live life again.
Be patient with yourself and lavish grace on your soul as you suffer.
Life is not over like it may seem, and you will not always feel like you might die from the pain.
One day you will pick flowers again and you’ll wonder how you made it this far.