This was certainly a first. I stared down at the lobster-like creatures in the bucket with a confusion exacerbated by my fitful night of sleep. Carl had knocked on the door early, his eyes as bloodshot and his hair as wild as mine. He was handing me eggs, and of course, these things that were busy getting nervous about their fate.
“I just thought I’d bring you breakfast; didn’t know what Magda had on hand.” He looked down at his boots and exuded discomfort. He sighed.
“Thanks, Carl, it’s really thoughtful. Um…what are these?”
He followed my gaze to the bucket. “Oh, crawfish, haven’t you ever had them?”
I laughed. “No.”
We stood there awkwardly a minute, the sun creeping over the far ridge. He was a good-looking man. Brown eyes, dark brown hair, five o’clock shadow. He and Magda would have been quite a pair. “I’ll make the eggs if you handle the, the things in that bucket.”
He had a way of almost smiling. It was enough.
As we settled over our plates of scrambled eggs and bright red crawfish, he bowed his head and prayed quietly. What a contrast to Magda’s full-throttle prayers. He showed me how to get to the tail meat. I was surprised I even had an appetite.
“I have good news. Magda’s great aunt came to my place last night. She lives a mile up the valley and they’d heard the news. They called the coroner’s office and Magda’s body will be flown up here this afternoon. She wants the funeral here in the house and I was glad to tell her that we could count on your help with getting her ready.”
My stomach clenched, the juicy crawdad very nearly got ejected from my mouth. I closed my eyes and swallowed. Could I do it? Could I look on her torn-up body again? Lord, help me.
I nodded. “Where will we bury her?”
“I know a good place”, he said simply. “We’ll have to measure out the exact location and submit that to the land deed office. But it’s simple other than that. I’ll make a marker today.” He paused. Scraped together the last of his eggs, but didn’t eat them. “Have you read her letter yet?”
“I got as far as ‘Dear Naomi'”, I said miserably. “Let’s read it together.”
I picked up the letter from where it had lain on the coffee table last night, laying there in the moonbeam.
I cleared my voice, unfolded the letter, and read.
I don’t know how it will happen, but I know it will. I’m going to die today, my dear friend. But, really, I’ve been dying for years, or ready to die for years. When my grandma died God visited me. Don’t roll your eyes, Naomi. 🙂
He told me clearly that He was making me a missionary and that someday I’d give my life for another. Since that vision 12 years ago, He has brought me person after person to minister to, with each one of them I tried to be ready, ready to lay down my life for them, wondering if they were the one. I died to any number of dreams that tempted me to choose an easier and lighter road. But I found in the daily dying a wild appreciation for life. For everyday joys and the whispers of God. As the years went by and my guestbook was filling near to completion, I wondered if I had heard right. God’s promises seem to take long, but today they seem all in a hurry.
I cry, I do. But hear me, I trust Him. I give myself willingly, so don’t feel badly. Feel love. God’s love for you, dear Naomi. He must love you wildly…”
My throat closed. I handed the letter to Carl, whose eyes were freely pouring tears down his stubble.
“…He must love you wildly. My love for you is great, but His love for you is overwhelming. It is that which will help me today.
As to some housekeeping matters; the sausages we made today are for my funeral party. There is some linen yardage in my trunk upstairs; please use that as my burial shroud. I’ve given you the guestbook so that you can attempt to contact my guests. I simply want them to know that I love them and prayed for them everyday. This home and land are now yours. I know you’re a city girl, but this place is your place too. My will is written out and available at my lawyer’s office, Max Mckay, Billings, MT. It says simply that all my property goes to whomever is with me when I die.
Please tell Carl that I….”
Carl’s shoulders shook and he exhaled loud.
“…that I love him, have since I first met him. He lives across the trail. I’m sure he’ll help you to know what to do.
Lastly, Naomi, a lot of people search for God. But really, God was first seeking us. For our hearts to turn to Him with even the weakest of loves to meet His most awesome love. I pray that you’ll open your heart to Him. Don’t be angry with Him for taking me, you see,
‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ -John 12:24
We sat in silence.