63: My Midnight Miracle

63: My Midnight Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

My Midnight Miracle

We acquire the strength we have overcome.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Living was no longer an option! I was taught that God would not put more on us than we could bear. But that was surely not true, considering that in less than three years, I had faced the death of my only child—murdered in a carjacking attempt—and the death of both my mother and father.

A person should not have to live with such pain. Grief and anger filled my life. My sister lived far away and was busy with her family and two sons. When we talked she kindly told me to call her any time. But those nights when I lay awake crying my heart out, I did not call her. I just cried, cried, and cried.

Always very responsible, I made my preparations carefully. Not only did I own my own business, but I served as president of an international professional organization.

When my son, Paul, was murdered, I updated my will. As I planned to end my life, I felt comfortable that my home and belongings would be disbursed as I had requested. Instructions were left regarding the organization’s files.

As I read a newspaper ad, a plan formed in my mind. A church singles’ group would fly out of Dallas on Thursday evening to Jamaica and return the following Monday. How convenient! Yes, I would go and attend the functions, but I would not be on that plane back to Dallas Monday morning.

No one would miss me until enough time had passed for me to fulfill my plan. I am terrified of water and never learned to swim. It would be so easy. Just wade into the water until it was over my head. I wouldn’t be able to swim and that would take care of the problem.

I called to make my reservation. I told the director of the singles’ program that I would make my own travel arrangements and that I preferred a room alone.

Time passed quickly. I had little time to grieve as I busied myself making my final preparations. I wanted to leave everything perfect. Late hours that I usually spent crying were spent organizing things both at home and at the office.

When the day of the trip arrived, I contained my excitement as I gave my parting words: “All of you will be just fine. The Office Manager knows how to take care of things just as well as I do. I wish you all the best.”

I planned even those words so no one would look for me for at least a week. By then, I would not be hurting anymore. Yes, death would give me peace.

Thursday was a blur, and at last I was on my way. I felt wonderful knowing my pain would soon end. We arrived in Jamaica and checked into the hotel. Everyone was celebrating the Labor Day weekend. I was just as happy as everyone else, but for a different reason.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I counted the hours until the final Beach Party was over. I mingled just enough to be polite. I could not wait for the party to end. Everyone dreaded having to return home to go back to work on Tuesday. I joined the conversation but knew I would not go to work on Tuesday. I would not even have to face Monday.

Before going to the party I dressed in a white tank top, white skirt with a pair of white shorts underneath the skirt. Meticulously, I hid my passport, credit card, driver’s license, and the key. Giving one last look around the tiny room, I breathed a sigh of relief. I would not need any of those things again.

No one noticed as I slipped away and walked toward the seashore. Each day I had looked for a place to leave all my pain behind. And I found the perfect spot!

Some of the group mentioned an inlet where the water seemed shallow, but as they walked in the sand, it suddenly dropped off into very deep water. I had marked the place in my memory and went there every day to be sure I knew the way. Soon I found the location, removed my skirt and my strappy sandals and hid them in the brush. I did not want anything to interfere with my plans.

The moon was full and there was no wind, just the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. As I began to walk, I allowed my thoughts to return to why I did not want to live. Paul. I would never see him alive, but tonight I would be with him.

Paul was always so responsible and never worried me. When he would go out with friends we would agree on a time for him to be home. He was never late. Even the years he was in college, many times he would call to tell me what he and his friends were doing and that they would be in by midnight, as they all had jobs as well as classes.

Finally I allowed the tears to flow and sobbed deeply. I was tortured not knowing where Paul was. Was he in Heaven? Was he in Hell? Exactly where was Heaven? No one has ever found Heaven. No one has ever found Hell. Nothing mattered. Tonight I would finally be with Paul again.

As I cried I said aloud, “Paul, if I just knew where you were I would be okay.” From somewhere behind me, I heard the soul of my son distinctly say to me, “I am where I was before I was with you and I am okay.”

I whirled completely around. I was alone on the beach.

The full moon shone almost as bright as day and I could see no one. Again I said, but louder this time, “Paul, if I just knew where you were I would be okay.” Again I heard the same words. I did not imagine that I heard the words. I had not been partying with the group. I was fully awake. I knew I heard the words, twice.

As I fell to the sand with heartrending sobs, I allowed the pain in my soul to pour onto the sand. I still sat on the beach as the sun rose. Somehow those words from above had brought the peace I needed to survive.

Making my way back to the hotel, I managed to get the clerk to unlock my room and I entered that room a new person. The events of that evening changed me forever.

The flight back to Dallas cost triple what I had paid for my one-way ticket there, but now I knew I could and would survive.

Though that trip was several years ago and I still grieve the death of my child, my life began to have meaning again.

Arriving home, I destroyed my notes and once again participated in life. Daily, I am grateful God gave me a special miracle that saved my life.

~Thomas Ann Hines

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