I know these folks used to be Catholic. I am sad to see that there is no church funeral. I don't know why there isn't. And I have no right to judge. So, I won't. But I will pray. I worry about people who have no one to pray for them once they have left this world.
Last summer my daughter and I took a car trip to San Antonio and North Padre Island, Texas. We had a wonderful time. We were gone for over a week. On the way home, we had an experience neither of us will ever forget.
We left Amarillo early in the morning so that we could get through the I-25 corridor in Colorado before evening rush hour. We ate fast food for lunch so that we would not lose any time. We were laser focused on getting home in the least amount of time possible, and we were successful - by 2 p.m., we were only an hour from home.
And then traffic came to a complete and total stop. We crept along at 2 or 5 mph occasionally. We saw a sign that said that I-25 was shut down a few miles ahead. It was a hot July afternoon, over 90º. We turned off the AC and rolled down the windows. I checked my iPhone for news about what was going on. The local news called it a "traffic incident" which I thought was odd.
After about an hour being stuck in traffic, we were diverted off the highway. I needed gas, and my daughter needed some things from the grocery store, so we stopped. At the grocery store, my daughter and I both used the rest room. While there, we were chatting - I told her "we should be praying for the people who were in that accident instead of bitching about the traffic." My daughter agreed and said that she had been praying.
When I exited the stall, there was a beautiful young girl standing there. She said to me: "That was my mom who died."
Oh no! I cried, she cried, I wrapped my arms around her and asked her if she was OK. I asked if she was in the car with her mom. Then she told me her mother wasn't in a car.... she jumped off the overpass onto the interstate highway. Oh dear Lord. My daughter then asked her how old she is - she is 13. I asked if she was alone. Her dad was out in the car waiting for her. He stopped there so that she could use the restroom. My daughter was hugging her and crying with her. We asked her name. I asked her mother's name. I told her I would pray for them both. It was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had.
After she left and we got into the car, there was a part of me that hoped that maybe she was some little girl who made up a big story. In my heart I knew she wasn't, but I wanted to believe that she is not a little girl whose mother just threw herself 25 feet off an overpass into 75 mile per hour traffic. Not a little girl who no longer has a mom. Not a little girl devastated. The rest of our trip was virtually silent - and very somber.
When I got home I checked the news - and sure enough, a woman parked her truck along the side of the road that afternoon. She left a suicide note in it and jumped into traffic. A tour bus hit her. The interstate highway was closed for an hour and a half. And a beautiful little girl will have to pick up the pieces for the rest of her life.
The next morning, I had coffee with some friends and told this story. One of my friends was silent and I thought perhaps I had offended him. Later that afternoon, he called me and asked me if I wanted to know "the rest of the story." He was a friend of that family. The woman who jumped was someone he knew from college. He knew the daughter and her father. He verified all that I already knew and told me more I didn't.
They were atheists. The woman was an alcoholic who just could not get sober. My friend felt that God had put us there for little Sara that day, just so she could see some kind people who were freely talking about God and prayer.
I know that my daughter and I both felt touched by the Holy Spirit on this day. I hope we did what we were supposed to do.
My friend tells me that Sara still talks about my daughter. I hope she remembers that we told her we would pray for her and her mother. And I hope I never forget to pray for both of them, but particularly her mother.
Who prays for all of these people?