I can still see the blood on the sidewalk. Not a lot, just tiny droplets smattered about – peeking up from the concrete underneath the mass of golden hair glaring in the sun. I felt the utter stillness and my kindergarten aged mind wondering how birds could still be singing right now. Eternal moments later, the sirens screamed along with Joyce at the sight of her four year old daughter lying where she fell. The sun shone black. Marie’s mother seemed to flutter about her, never touching her but straining to help in any way she could. It was if her nurse’s hands were paralyzed yet she still wanted to piece Marie’s skull back together.
Marie healed in time. After 17 years, she still doesn’t remember the day she fell from the dividing wall and cracked her skull. She doesn’t remember her sister and I running for help or her mother’s uncharacteristic actions. Joyce was a steady person – but that day her foundation wavered.Sam’s smile was contagious. He laughed and danced around the kitchen in the early morning magic hours. He tossed silver dollar pancakes into the air and let them plummet down to the sizzling griddle where they tortured themselves in to golden perfection. He teased us about the fair, joking that he should not feed us pancakes for we were sure to throw them up on all the rides. He mimicked the country singers that were headlining that night. He smacked his wife’s butt and when she turned to scold him, he blocked her lips with his own. Sam’s beautiful children played the plunky piano in the living room. They cheered with him at highschool football games. One daughter plans her wedding. One son plans for college. One big happy family with Sam at the head. He was a sparkling furious whirlwind that enchanted and inspired us.

Marie does remember the first day it struck. Driving to a Bible conference, Joyce suddenly failed to remember who her children were, her own name, or where she was. The sticky sweet heat of summer became stifling as they found themselves convincing their own mother to stay in the car, follow them into an emergency room and put up with myraids of tests. Thunder clapped. Cancer. Inoperable. Terminal. Then larger terms. Loss of sensation, memory lapses, mood swings. The pieces were falling out of their lives. Between one day and the next they changed from talking of where to eat lunch to talking of how to spend their last Christmas. Vacation plans turned into funeral plans. Joyce fell. And we couldn’t piece her head back together.

The pancakes are gone. Sam now spends his time on a couch or in a bed, accompanied by a haze of pain or medication. His final MRI evaluation is today – determining the doctors’ prediction for the length of time he has to live here. The same memo appeared in his world last fall. Cancer. Inoperable. Terminal. Outside of him there is more. One daughter divorced. One son on trial. One daughter raped and pregnant. Sam feeds the squirrels outside his back door instead of dancing the kitchen floor with his wife. The rollercoaster is broken. Sam’s life has plummeted into a painful crucible. The whirlwind has stopped.

Two people I barely knew. Two people who influenced my life the moment our spheres touched. Joyce’s attitude through her entire ordeal was that of peace. She affirmed God’s plan, God’s control, God’s wisdom. She was an honorable mother, and the wife of a beekeeper. She died.
Sam is angry. He is crying out to God for answers, he sees no solutions, he sees only pain. He was a pastor. He is dying.

I don’t exactly know why I felt it necessary to tell you about these people. I love them. I don’t mean to depress you or plea of pity. I’m sure Sam could use prayer. Keep in mind, Sam is not his real name. I do not understand God sometimes. I’m sure that’s the way it will always be…but I don’t understand.