The Cross-Stitch

In all probability, March 7 holds little or no significance for you.  It’s just another day.  However, our lives were forever altered on March 7, 1995.  My wife’s parents left home that morning never to return.  They were involved in a fatal car crash.

My in-laws were pastors.  They left home that dismal, rainy morning to make a hospital call in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Just south of Frankfurt another minister ran a stop sign and broadsided them, forcing their car into the side of a waiting eighteen wheeler at the four-way stop.  Dad died on impact and Mom succumbed to her injuries five weeks later.

Accidents change our lives forever.  No one is ever ready for such news. 

In a split second we lost dad, grandpa, son, brother, pastor, mentor and friend to many.  Mom planned his funeral then lapsed into a coma when she heard that his service and committal were over.  After a thirty-five day hospital vigil, the family also laid mom to rest.    

No one fully understands or explains tragedy.  Bad things happen to wonderful people.  It rains on the just and the unjust.  Even Job, perhaps the Bible’s premiere example of suffering, remained clueless as to the “why’s.”  Chuck Swindoll wrote, “God is too kind to do anything cruel, too wise to make a mistake, and too deep to explain Himself.”  At times, the faith walk leads us into inexplicable depths. 

Dale and Jean Owens were preparing to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday.  The accident occurred on Tuesday, when celebration turned to mourning.  Even though March 7, 2018 will mark 23 years since the accident, it still hurts to think about it.  My wife’s grandmother said at Dad’s funeral, “It’s just not right.  Parents should never have to bury their children.”

A cross-stitch wall hanging in our home depicts a winter scene with trees and a full moon in the background.  My mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas in 1986.  The inscription on the back reads, “To Roger.  When this you see, think of me.”

I still fight back tears when I look at it.  And oh, how I miss them.  This cross-stitch is a bittersweet reminder of better days.  Have you lost a loved one?  Do painful memories continue to well up inside when you think back? 

I still remember walking away from two fresh graves, contemplating the many ways that Mom and Dad Owens impacted my life.  I was privileged to be their son-in-law for 19 years.  The pastor who officiated their wedding 40 years prior said, “Look, there’s ‘Resurrection Row.’”  Today four graves line side by side – my in-laws, and my wife’s maternal grandparents.  All of them awaiting the trumpet blast:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

This priceless cross-stitch wall hanging still incites me to sadness, but then my heart fills with resurrection joy, as I’m reminded that some day there’s going to be a meeting in the air.  Mom and Dad, along with saints from across the ages, will rise first before those alive on the earth at the time – to meet Jesus in the air.  I plan to be in that meeting!                  



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