It was the day that we learned of Ash’s death, a Sunday. Meg and I received the Dale’s food delivery from Second Harvest in the morning, then Erinn led our church service in the afternoon with back up from me and Olivia. Our friend Mike (who we hadn’t seen in many months) popped in before the service to say hello; a bright spot in the midst of the sad task of sharing the unbelievable news that Ash was gone.
Later that afternoon I found myself back in Parkdale, needing to return our van, Morrison, to her parking spot after unsuccessfully trying to park elsewhere (long, unnecessary story.) After parking, I randomly chose one of the two possible routes back to my bike. I was in a bit of a daze; physically tired from a long day, and more emotionally spent than I even realized. I didn’t know it then, but I was about to take a four week leave from work (about which I’ll share more in another post.) All I knew in that moment was that I was in desperate need of a hug.
As I walked down Queen Street, I heard my name being called. Just to my right, sitting on some steps, was Mike. I hadn’t recognized him in my hazy state, but he’d spotted me. I was so happy to see him, as I hadn’t had a chance to chat with him when he dropped by church earlier. He was thrilled too, and exclaimed, “Jesus told me to sit on these steps! So I did, and now here you are!” We spoke for a moment, sharing a bit about how each of us were doing. I told him that I was tired, and that I could really use a hug.
Mike leapt up from his perch on the steps, and threw his arms around me. It was a great hug. We chatted for another moment, then he decided to give me another hug. Mid-embrace I told him that I was pretty sure Jesus asked him to sit on those steps so that he could give me those hugs. He didn’t disagree 🙂
Fast forward seven weeks, and back to our Sunday service. Again, Mike popped in to say hello, and this time I made a point of connecting with him. I wanted to ask permission to share this story, and he readily agreed. He didn’t actually remember much of it, so I reminded him what happened. I told him that I had really needed those hugs, and had later realized that I needed to take a bit of time away. He said, “well, yeah! You’ve been carrying everyone else’s pain! You can’t be doing that!”
It seems to me that Mike had, again, received some inside information from the One who knows me (and you) best. As I’ll write about next time, this was the main lesson I learned during my time away– that I truly can’t carrying everyone else’s pain around with me. Hearing those words from Mike’s lips confirmed this humbling, uncomfortable truth, and I am grateful.