Unfortunately, I never knew her as my mother-in-law. I only knew her as Steven and Matt's mom, Mrs. Debbie.
In high school, we knew her as the mom who always brought lunch (something good) to Steven and Matt... and who was always at school early to pick them up.
I wish I had known her so much better. The most interaction I had with her was in the summer of 1999, at the airport right before Steven and I went on a school trip to France. She was really funny, though I don't remember everything she said. I just remember she made us laugh a lot.
It was during that trip that Steven and I finally became friends. He was no longer so "dorky", and I guess I was no longer so "scary".
A couple weeks after we returned from France, Debbie and her sister, Pat, were in a horrible car accident on their way home from visiting with their other sister.
Outside of Orangeburg, SC, a bucket fell off of a construction truck heading up I-26. The Honda behind the truck swerved to miss the bucket and lost control of the vehicle, colliding head-on with the van Debbie was driving. They didn't know it was coming.
In the Honda, the girl in the front seat was killed instantly. Her name was Amanda, and she and I had become friends the previous year during a weekend retreat. Her fiance, the guy driving the car, suffered some minor leg injuries but was able to walk away from the accident.
Aunt Pat's legs were severely injured, and she was eventually flown to MUSC in Charleston, while Mrs. Debbie was flown to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. So, the two sisters were separated by a couple hundred miles, both hospitalized, in serious condition.
Mrs. Debbie's condition was critical. When the family arrived at the Columbia hospital, they were callously told by the surgeon, "I hope this isn't your relative because this person isn't going to live."
The following few days were filled with lots of doctors, lots of surgeries, and lots of hours spent in the waiting room. The family was only briefly allowed to visit Debbie, for short 15 minute periods of time every few hours. The waiting room became a second home and was filled to the brim with friends and family who came to support Debbie in her fight for life.
And, oh, was there PRAYER! Debbie's dad, Jesse Powers, has a lot of church connections in Columbia. One of the things the family remembers most from that time is all the people who visited and prayed with them. Every member of our family gained life-long lessons that week--about God, His will, and about prayer. Some have more understanding of it, and others have more questions. But without a doubt, that week of time was life-altering, in more ways than one.
On July 31st of that year, Mrs. Debbie was released from her earthly body. The effects from the accident would have been debilitating, and everyone who speaks of her knows she would not have wanted to live the life that would have been hers in that condition. And though God did not give her full physical healing, He called her home to be with Him. On that day 10 years ago, our family lost a precious jewel--and Heaven gained one.
I feel very sad that I don't know Mrs. Debbie as my mother-in-law. I feel very sad that Matt lost his mom when he was only 13. And I feel sad that the rest of the world lost such a beautiful person. A woman full of life, laughter and love for her Lord & family. From everything I know about her, she is the epitome of the woman I long to be.
Last week, as I was talking to the Lord about missing my mother-in-law and thinking of the grief and mourning of our family, I prayed aloud," God, 10 years! We miss her so much. That's just such a long time." His whisper to me was very clear,"It hasn't seemed long for us. For Me and Debbie, it has been just a moment."
May I continue to strive to be a woman like my mother-in-law, and may I continue to grow closer to the God who knows and loves us both. In the meantime, I'll continue to long for the day when we can all spend eternity with our Abba Father--where years will pass as moments in His holy presence!