Grief is broken when love enters the room.
8:33pm, Marriott St. Louis Airport. "Having to spend the night. Quite a day....on 6am flight out to Seattle."
That’s the Facebook message that my Guideposts colleague Randy Elliott posted one Monday evening in July from his hotel room in St. Louis.
It’d been a long day. The night before, Randy had received word from his sister Lori that their 84-year-old mother’s health was failing fast. She’d been admitted into a Seattle hospital two days earlier with pneumonia and had taken a sudden turn for the worse.
“Randy, you need to get here as soon as you can,” Lori said. “She’s knows you’re coming–she’s holding on for you.”
Randy booked the first flight he could find–he was set to arrive in Seattle by mid-day. But Mother Nature had other plans. A storm delayed his flight in Indianapolis, then St. Louis, where he found himself stranded for the night. He was settling into his hotel room when his phone rang– Lori, again.
“Mom’s on life support,” she said. “She can't speak, but I’ll put the phone to her ear so…so you can say good-bye.”
That’s what Randy did, thanking her for being a great mother and sharing how much he loved her. An hour later, Lori called back. Their mother was gone.
After he hung up the phone, Randy was overcome with intense grief unlike anything he’d ever experienced–the sorrow was overwhelming. He sobbed uncontrollably, using up every tissue in the room.
And then, in the midst of his sorrow, he heard something. A gentle knock-knock at the door. He ignored it, but there it was again. Knock-knock. He looked through the peephole and saw a hotel employee standing there with a tray.
“I didn’t order anything, go away,” Randy said, his voice muffled.
“Sir, someone sent you something complimentary to your room,” the man explained.
All the tissues were gone, so Randy grabbed a towel to dry his tears and opened the door. The man brought the tray inside and left. Sitting on it was a sifter of brandy, chocolates and an envelope. Randy tore it open.
“Uncle Randy,” it read. “Here’s a little something to let you know that we’re thinking of you…”
The note was from his niece, Jackie, and her husband, David. They’d seen Randy’s Facebook message two hours earlier and decided to send him something at his hotel to cheer him up. They, of course, had no idea that his mother–Jackie’s grandmother–had just passed away, a few minutes earlier.
The perfect timing of it all blew Randy away. His sadness was suddenly overcome with a very different emotion. Love. And his mother was the source of it all, through this act of kindness from her granddaughter. It broke Randy’s grief, if only for a moment.
Once Randy arrived in Seattle, there was much to do. Family to see and funeral arrangements to be made. But he drew comfort and strength from that small miracle–a knock at the door at his darkest moment of despair.
Has God ever sent you a miraculous sign of comfort or reassurance? Share your story below.