Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him – my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”
I Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
As I look back at those earlier days and years of my time together with Mike and Patrick, and I reflect on the struggles we faced, I realize that God was preparing me for what was to come.
Mike loved Eastcare, and his crew! They were an amazing team! They truly were dedicated to their mission, which was to care for and serve the community and beyond. Mike was well respected in his duties as Chief Flight Nurse, and as an individual. As Eastcare continued to grow, Mike’s interest in hospital administration grew also. He applied to Duke University, and he was accepted in their doctorate program for hospital administration. In the spring of 1987, we would move to Durham, NC and we would start another chapter in our lives together. I graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in Special Education, and hopefully, would begin teaching in Durham in the fall of 1987.
I remember the moment everything changed! I remember what I was doing, how the news came, and how our lives changed instantly. However, I do not remember the days that followed, even now 33 years later.
The following passage is from a journal I started writing about three years after that moment in time. “I remember the moment they came to tell me what happened. I was upstairs in our bedroom, reading a book, and watching a Carolina basketball game on TV. Then out of the darkness, late that night, there was a knock on the door. I think something told me at that moment that there was something wrong. I remember being afraid to go downstairs and open the door. I knew when I looked out the window and saw who it was, that something had happened. I also remember that Betty had to knock on the door several times, and finally yell out my name, before I moved from the window to go downstairs and open the door. When I finally opened the door, it only took one glance at her face to know that you were gone. After she spoke the words and I heard the word, crash, I remember thinking to myself, “How can that be? We were just all together, sitting at the table, celebrating your birthday, laughing, and talking? How could you be gone just hours later?” I remember asking our neighbor to come and sit with Patrick, I remember getting in the car with Betty to ride to the hospital, and I remember walking into the trailer and the horrible silence that followed. Everyone stopped crying and talking as soon as they saw me enter. Everyone just stared and waited quietly for me to walk in and sit down, yet no one knew what to say to the young wife who just lost her husband. I remember how I wanted to shout at all of them and tell them this must be a nightmare; this could not have happened. I wanted to shout out that it was their fault, that if there had never been a helicopter program, Mike would still be with me. Then came the phone calls I had to make, one to Mike’s parents and one to my parents, to tell them there had been a crash, and they were searching for the wreckage. Then came the wait! It seemed to last forever, but in truth, it was only about an hour. There were no survivors! Mike, Pam, Perry, and the baby they were transporting were all gone. I remember the walk back to the office again, to make two more phone calls. Again, to Mike’s parents and my parents to tell them Mike was gone. My stomach still knots up every time I think about those phone calls. The silence on the other end of the phone was the worst thing I have ever heard. A part of me died when they told me there were no survivors, and then another part died when I heard the brokenness in my father’s voice and when I heard Mrs. McGinnis’ tears. That night was a night of shock, fear, and pain like I have never known. A loneliness, so deep and so dark, set into my heart that night that I do not think I will ever forget.”
I remember the pain of that evening, yet the days that followed are still a hazy blur. As I reflect now though I believe it was God’s way of protecting me from all the events that followed and the reminders that Mike was gone. The family and friends gathering, the memorial service, the planning for Mike’s funeral, and that moment when I walked in Mike’s parent’s house and heard the anger and accusations from his father. At the beginning of my blog, I talked about those moments in time when the way we react to things that happen in our lives is more of a testimony than the words we speak. Those around us may not know the Lord, and when we react negatively or do not react at all, then what testimony are we giving? That morning, 24 hours after Mike’s death, when I walked into their house was one of those moments for me and to this day I have a difficult time with the way I reacted (or the way I did not react), it was a moment I was given to be a witness to Mr. McGinnis, to use my actions as a testimony for him. He looked at me with such pain and anger, and with such a sad and accusatory voice asked, “Well Lynne, where is your God now?” I could not think of a thing to say. I did not respond. I just stood there shaking and then turned away. In my heart, I knew I was disappointing God, however, I could not think of the words to say, so I said nothing. When I think about it now, I know the words I should have said, and the scriptures I could have used. “Mac, believe me, God is right here with us. I know He is with me because without Him I would not have gotten out of bed this morning, got dressed, and come here to be with you. I know He is with us because He has given me strength to face this day and all the days that will follow. I know He is here because I see the strength in myself and my son in each moment of the day. I know He is here because His words tell me, Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” and in Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him – my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”
Oh, to be able to go back in time, and use that moment as a witness to everyone around me. Yet, we cannot go back in time, what we must remember is to make the best of each moment that follows, and to use each moment to be a witness to God. I pray that from that moment, I have used each moment to be a testimony to God and the strength He has given me to face each struggle in life. Shortly after Mike’s death, I received a card and a letter from a dear friend telling me she admired the courage and strength I was showing through all of this. She reminded me of Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Her reminder was exactly the words I needed to hear. I can only pray that I have lived a life for others to see that I am clothed in God’s strength and dignity, and that I have tried to laugh without fear of the future. Our future was filled with uncertainly and fear, yet, God provided for our needs with a family that loved and supported us, friends (old and new), and a renewed faith in God! The future was unsure, but Patrick and I both began the journey to move forward and follow God’s direction.
Now 33 years later, a few months ago I was given another opportunity to speak up and share in Sunday School class about my encounter with Mr. McGinnis. Again, that morning I was disappointed in myself, because I could not find the strength to speak up and share my weakness in that moment. From that day on, God laid it on my heart to share my testimony, to include the failures and weaknesses, as well as the moments I stood clothed with strength and dignity. The next opportunity to share publicly came a few weeks later in Sunday School, and I leaned on God’s strength and mercy and shared my weakness in that moment.
Now, God has laid it on my heart to write and share my testimony through this blog.