She called me right after I pulled up to her Capitol Hill apartment and told me she was running a bit late and that it might take her a couple of extra minutes to get out to the car. I told her that was fine with me and to take her time. She got in the front seat, her long brunette hair was shower wet and just combed. “I am so sorry, I have had a really bad two days. I missed work yesterday and am running late today. I work all the way out in Golden so I hope you are ok with a 30 minute ride.” I told her that I did not mind at all and was just happy to help.
We headed west and for the first few minutes the only sound was the music from my radio. I looked over and tears were streaming down her face. I asked, “Do you need to talk?” After a minute or so she gathered herself and said, “A very good friend of mine died of an overdose two nights ago. We have worked together for a long time. We have a small business that works with musicians. We had just done a show on Saturday and they found him Sunday afternoon. I knew he was struggling. He was truly one of the finest people I have ever known”. Then the tears started pouring out and the heaving breathing of broken hearted grief filled the car.
I was driving a car, but 40 years of pastoral ministry were alive and well in my heart and mind. Again she gathered herself and apologized for “being so emotional”. I told her “I am honored to be present to your broken heart”. She then questioned “Are you a doctor?” I laughed, “Well of sorts, I have a doctorate but you are riding with a retired pastor.” “I had a pastor when I was a kid but not so much anymore. I guess I need one today.” I smiled and got a smile back.
It was a long ride. I asked her “Tell me about your friend”. She shared non-stop for about 5 minutes. She talked of a very smart, caring, funny 40 year old guy. She would tell a little story and then laugh and cry at the same time. This provided the opportunity for sharing from one of my favorite theologians, Dolly Parton, in STEEL MAGNOLIAS. “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Grief is a gift, it opens our hearts to grace.
We pulled up to her place of work. “I hope my boss understands. I can’t thank you enough for listening, I needed a ride and I got a pastor.” I thought for a moment and then said “You were a very good friend to a good man.”
Today is Easter, life is a gift, I am still a hope freak, and the Jackies of this world remind me again – “Blessed are those whose hearts are broken by the things that break the heart of God”.
Onward and Upward,