It was a short text that came at 12:05 today – just two words and time. “She’s gone 10:10” Who was she? My mind has been trying to wrap itself around that question since I made a quick phone call to her husband to make sure I was understanding what his words meant. Her earth name was Betty Carol Richardson (Greene) Hickox. Who knows what they call her now, because now she has a new name.
Often when we lose people we struggle to quickly craft memories of a saint by tossing anything that does not fit the image. And then sometimes its OK to hold all the memories because they intricately weave the person we loved who walked in a beauty so magical it cannot be marred by any fleshly flaws. Indeed, any falls from grace were but tiny cracks that served to remind us that only one has ever walked this earth in perfect step with God.
She lived large! And when you live larger than life you manage your share of drama and sometimes discourse because you can’t please everyone all the time. You sometime trip over political correctness because most of the time it’s intended to trip those who answer a higher call. Sometime you dance like there is no tomorrow. Oh, but we did a lot of that because we were born spirit sisters with dancing legs & hearts that echoed every drum beat they ever heard. How many nights did we dance til closing time & then spend the hours before dawn eating & talking at the Waffle House because we both had homes once filled with love & laughter that had grown way too empty. It was a mutual joke that when the bread man arrived it was time to go home & dress for work. When you’re in your 40’s you can do that & still punch the clock every day. And you try not to think the day will come when time will punch you back. But it does come. And for this earth angel it punched again & again as her tiny body with the big heart kept struggling to win another round. Two words & time marked the end.
So she was gone, but where? She’s still here in my head & in my heart so can any of us ever really be gone? I see her laughing & dancing & crying because we did a lot of that. We met at a divorce support meeting twenty-seven years ago & always agreed that the only value we took away was our friendship. We were the sister neither of us had, but needed in a world where everything we thought we could depend on was suddenly gone sparat (no translation because it describes the absence of meaning). We learned that one of the stages of grieving a loss is anger & when the loss is a marriage you can have a lot of that. Some days we held our anger as a triumphant right of passage from who we were to who we were becoming (ready or not). Deep in our conscience we knew we had to forgive, but not until we had fully owned the damage done to our hearts & minds & souls. It was fresh & raw & painful & needing to be shared. And so we tossed it back & forth when we could not transcend it with music or dancing or mindless laughing at life because too much serious honesty can kill the best of us. Gradually we sorted the salvageable from the never gonna be the same again. We realized it was not the loss of one fallible human that had once been our whole world, but rather the loss of who we were in that world that was so devastating. We could live without the one who failed us, but could we rebuild above all the holes that had opened in our day to day universes because all our anticipated tomorrows were suddenly snatched by that black raven called Nevermore. We could dance & She most often was the life of the party, but eventually the music faded & the bright lights came back on & that demon Nevermore was still there. We even had a suicide pact by which we promised that neither one would go that exit unless we both agreed at the same time that it was the right exit. We flipped & flopped, but never hit that bottom at the same time so we each propped the other up & vowed to do the next near duty & the next & the next. Best friendships may come in on the wings of happiness, but they are forged into forever in the fires of shared pain & there is no greater pain than transcending from what was to what will be. We walked years of that transition road together, sometimes close, & sometimes not so much as we also welcomed others to journey with us & those journeys eventually led us in different directions. But we always carried that sisterhood bond there in our hearts & minds where our special treasures of a lifetime are safely preserved & we always knew no matter the distance or time each would always have a heart light burning for the other. And tonight, I know that light is still burning because my answering light has not flickered.
And so, I answer my own question that I know where She has gone. She’s gone to rest in the arms of our Elder Brother, Jesus. It was He who really brought us through the valleys & stood with us on the mountains because He was the one who knew that we were spirit sisters long before we met I know She fought to live because She felt it was the near duty, but I also know She had no fear of death. We used to spend midnight hours in the cemetery every anniversary of the untimely death of her first born. That was her near duty so she thought & mine was to be there with her & for her. She won’t be able to be buried there because there is only room for one wife, but it does not matter. Mother & daughter are together now & finally that loss has been restored. Graves can bring you close to one who has left this life, but there is no separation in the life to come so graves only have meaning to those left behind. We earthbound are silly to quibble over earth things for one who has been freed. We quibble for our own peace of mind because part of the answer to where they have gone is beyond the bonds of earth time or place.
Two words and time marked your passage and I already knew you were going. Still, they seemed so lifeless & so abrupt & so meaningless. Why Lord, did you suffer so long if this was how it ended. And then I started laughing because I realized the 10:10 was a message & you would surely be laughing also. 10 in scripture numerics is a complete number along with 3, 7 & 12. It also stands for testimony. But for me the real treasure was it meant God was saying “I’ve got this. It’s Ok. It’s Complete & right on time & also the testimony is completed.” On the earth level 10-10 most commonly means “fight” when used in 10 signal codes. So, if I put it all together it read. “She’s gone. The testimony is complete. The fight is over. And most importantly I’ve got this.” It does not matter that perhaps no one else would ever read the message like me because I know in my knower it was from God & that makes all the difference.
When they amputated your foot all I could think was not that foot that loved to dance. And God said “That foot had a good run.” Now, I tell myself that flesh body could not contain your special magic any longer. But oh how my heart & my memory eyes can still see you dancing & laughing & loving life & people. Now, you go rest high on that mountain & know One Father is saying, “You had a good run & you completed your testimony.” My prayer is that all those who ever loved you will honor that testimony by choosing to love & be kind to each other.
As for me & my near duty I promise to continue to love everyone you loved & to work a little harder at remembering whose daughter I am & to be more diligent to straighten my crown. You little trickster. You no longer have to worry about your crown slipping. Just know – I won’t be far behind you & then we can both dance every dance because I’m sure they dance in Heaven & the music never stops. Hopefully there will finally be enough men so we never have to sit down. Best friends & sisters for eternity!