Torrents of rain assailed the car. It seemed to come in sheets and in intervals. Part of the time, the bombarding would create such a thick veil of water that we could not see the car in front of us. Then a temporary lull would come causing us to think that perhaps the worst was behind. However, within moments the flood would begin again. As we traveled along Interstate 75 heading toward Clearwater, Florida we were experiencing the rains accompanying the first hurricane of the 2018 summer season. The weather report had forecast the rains, but telling us what to expect and experiencing the deluge were two entirely different things.
Inside the car, the atmosphere was also cloud-covered. Several days before, we had received a phone call from our sister-in-law that our niece had been tragically killed in an automobile accident. This vibrant, life-loving, beautiful 21-year old had just completed an evening shift and was heading home from work when she encountered a dump truck stopped on the interstate. Unable to break in time, she ran into the back of the vehicle. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
A police officer had come to our sister-in-law’s home in the midnight hours to bring her the news – news of hurricane force. Early the next morning, the rest of the family was informed. We were all immediately aware that there was no route of evacuation, no running from the storm. Whirlwinds of thoughts swirled in our minds as we rehearsed memories of days gone by. Our conversations turned to how to anchor down and prepare. Above all, we focused upon how to help our sister-in-law find shelter in the eye of the storm.
After the arrangements were finalized, we started our two-day trek from Illinois to Florida. We drove thirteen hours the first day and reserved the final four hours for the morning of the funeral. The early morning, storm-blitzed travel seemed to testify of the unsolicited event, the out-of-time moment in time, and the tumult of emotions. Nothing inside or outside of the car was like the ordinary climate of life. We were in the midst of a storm.
The service was being held in an Assembly of God church. We arrived about the same time as other family members – faces not seen for years, necks not hugged for too-long, kisses awaiting a reunion – these were exchanged. And all the while, the casket awaited us at the altar of the church. After only moments of the reuniting, our focus changed to the one who was separating. We had come together to say our good-bye.
Storms – who wants them? Who can avoid them? No one! The answer is that certainly no one can so protect his or her life as to circumvent every storm. Somewhere, sometime, or somehow every life will be touched by a storm. However, there is perhaps an even more appropriate question. Can we weather the storm? Have we made any preparations just in case hurricane season brings untoward events in our direction?
Our sister-in-law and our niece had been wise. Each had individually and in unity with one another they had known a life of grace because of Jesus Christ. They had accepted their Savior’s love and forgiveness. They lived for Him and planned to inherit an eternity in His presence. The funeral service stilled the storm, calmed the emotions, silenced the fear of the unknown. Songs, testimonies, reading of the scripture, and prayers were heard above the winds on that stormy day in Florida. Tears may yet flow, but the hurricane-level waters have passed. Rest in peace, dear Marissa.