After losing her husband to cancer, she found a mysterious trail of white flowers in her backyard
- Posted on Feb 26, 2019
I sat alone on the love seat in our family room, wondering how Carl could truly be gone forever. Surely he would walk in the back door at his usual time or call and ask if I wanted him to pick up something for dinner. I stared out the window, hoping to see him trimming the bushes or watering our crepe myrtle in the yard. Where was he? Of course, I knew where.
It had been a week since my husband left this earth for his heavenly home. A week of emptiness and deep mourning. Wretched, raw grief left me sobbing into my pillow each night. Married 45 years, I hardly knew a life without Carl. Add our years of dating to that number and we had been together nearly half a century. How would I go on without him?
Carl and I met in college when we were both 18 years old and dating other people. But there was a spark between us, a chemistry that neither of us could ignore. Before that year was over, we were inseparable. We married at 20, just hours before Carl headed overseas with the U.S. Army. That year-and-a-half separation sealed our commitment like nothing else. We wrote long love letters to each other and promised never to be apart again.
I was at the hospital during those horrific last days and hours. I was present when his spirit slipped from this world. At the cemetery, I sat under a tent in triple-digit heat and listened to taps play. I watched young soldiers fold the flag from his casket and place it in my hands, but my heart just couldn’t accept that Carl was never coming home. He had promised to be with me forever. He had written it in letters and told me in person. My husband had never broken a promise to me in all our years together, so he had to be with me somehow.
My gaze fell on the bench that Carl had put at the edge of the yard, where the grass met the trees. I tried to summon the energy to get up and do something, anything. I used to sit on the bench, tearing up slices of old bread to throw on the ground for the birds. The smaller ones nibbled on the crumbs, while crows stuffed their beaks with large pieces and flew away. Carl knew I made good use of our stale bread. There was a sack in the kitchen now, but what was the point?
Instead I sat at the window and thought back over the last month. Carl was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only 17 days before his death. We never saw it coming. He was tired, had lost some weight and had chest pain. There was nothing wrong with his heart, but a CT scan of his abdomen gave doctors their answer. The cancer had already spread to his liver. Carl’s energy seemed to wane daily.
He was just six months away from retirement. One day at the hospital a nurse stepped inside the room while Carl and I sat on the side of the bed talking. She asked if I was his girl. He circled his arm around me and said, “Yes, she is, and I couldn’t live without her.” I followed with my own comment, “I can’t live without him either. That’s why we need a miracle.” The nurse cried.
The same thing I did at the doctor’s office when we heard the diagnosis. At home, I leaned on my husband’s chest and cried again, wondering how life could ever go on. He was my rock. Carl wrapped me in his arms and said, “We need to agree on one thing.” I looked up at his gentle face and into those sky-blue eyes that had turned my heart upside down nearly a half century earlier.
“What?” I asked.
“We need to agree that from this day forward everything will be done for the glory of God.” I cried some more, wondering how he could be so strong in his faith and how many months of chemo he was facing. Prognoses of pancreatic cancer are seldom good. We’d be seeing an oncologist right away, but most of what I read gave six months as the norm for survival. It was already May. Would Carl be with us for Thanksgiving? Christmas? I would pray and plead desperately for a miracle. Surely God would heal my husband.
Somehow we got through the rest of the day, and Carl sat at his desk in the kitchen while I cooked. He was trying to pay bills and get things in order for me to take over. I pushed the sack of stale bread to the back of the counter and tried to lighten the mood. “If you really do go to heaven before I do, would you drop bread crumbs so I can find the way?”
Carl looked up at me and smiled. “Angels will carry you,” he said. “Remember that.”
From the moment of his diagnosis, Carl was trying to help me stay strong. Now here I was, looking out the window at a yard that seemed as lifeless as I felt. I couldn’t sit still any longer.
Numbly, I moved to the kitchen for that old bread. I took it out onto the back deck. I was surprised at what I saw. Part of the yard seemed to be strewn with crumbs already. I hadn’t noticed from the window.
I walked onto the grass to examine the morsels, but instead of bread, I found tiny white flowers, clumps of them, scattered over the yard. Trails of miniature blossoms led into the trees near the bench. Where had they come from? We had lived on this acreage for 10 years and I had never seen these flowers. They seemed to be scattered randomly… as I did with the stale bread. I caught my breath. Carl!
The flowers were back the next morning and the next. For weeks my yard was filled with heavenly blossoms. Not even the triple-digit Oklahoma heat destroyed them. I could hardly bear to have the lawn mowed, not wanting to lose them, but they were there again the morning after mowing. They required no water or cultivation. They simply appeared every morning, Carl’s heavenly bread crumbs, scattered by angels who carried him—and watch over me—every day since.
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