She looked as fragile as a butterfly, but she was tough, hardened by years of abuse from people in her world, people that she should have been able to trust.
Dripping wet she only weighed 100 pounds, she had hair as brown as corn silk and her eyes were as blue as the sky. She always had a smile for everyone, it lit up the world around her.
You would not think of her as beautiful, perhaps not even pretty, but there was something about her, everyone said it, though no one could put their finger on just what it was.
Her name was Mandy. She came from a long line of drug addicts, not the illegal kind, but the kind that the doctor prescribed. Once every year she got so sick she had to be hospitalized because she just couldn’t handle life anymore. In a way, it was a ploy to get the attention that she craved.
Mandy was no different from her mother before her, or her grand-mother, they were all addicted. Oh, it wasn’t the kind that made you a walking zombie, it was just enough for you to be to be stable and able to sleep at night. Legal, accepted by the world. Naturally, she did not think of herself as an addict and, of course, no one but those closest to Mandy even knew that she was taking drugs every day. But, she knew she needed the drugs to survive.
But there was more to Mandy than the abuse she suffered in her young life or the drugs she needed to live each day, Mandy had a different spirit in her. She knew she was unusual, even children and animals were drawn to her like a magnet. She would only look at them and they would run to her. God had prepared her, He had set her up to become His child.
I met Mandy a few years ago and in a very short time she became like a daughter to me. On a lovely spring day, a year after we met, I introduced her to the only one who could heal a sin sick soul, she met Him and His peace flooded her life.
I wished that I could have had a daughter, but I had been blessed with four boys. Somehow, with Mandy in my life, that void was filled. We were dear, dear friends.
Our relationship was so close that when the incident happened, I was shocked to my core. I had never had to deal with the loss of one so dear, especially one in the prime of their life. The day it happened, morning came like every other day. That afternoon, I felt like, “How could this be? How could life just go on as if nothing happened?”
By the way, I believe in God, I believe that He is “our Father in Heaven”, I believe that He is the ultimate good and that He has a Son and His human name was Yeshua, we call Him Jesus. I also believe that Jesus is the only way to God and that He made the way through His death and resurrection. I not only believe this mentally, but I believe it experiencially. I have had the privilege of seeing Jesus twice. As a result, the peace and love that I live in is tangible to me and to others.
Having said that, I want you to know, dear reader, that the shock of losing Mandy sent waves of hurt crashing against my soul that nearly took me under.
I was sitting in the sun porch of my home, the sunlight was streaming in from the west, I had my sweet cat, Katie, on my lap, a glass of sweet tea and the book, “Make Fear Bow”, by Gary Whetstone in my hand…life was good.
The phone rang. When I picked it up I heard words I never thought I would hear. “This is the sheriff’s department, Mandy Larson has just had an accident and your name was on a slip in her purse, are you a relative?” I was taken aback, but quickly answered that I was not. “What happened?”, I asked.
“Miss Larson was crossing the bridge on Interstate 85 when the bridge collapsed. Her car was among those in the center and it fell along with a piece of the bridge into the water. Divers were deployed as soon as we could get there. Miss Larson’s body was found in her car. I am sorry ma’am.”
I hung up the phone, I was in free fall. I felt numb. What should I do? I turned to my “Abba”, my Daddy, He has always been there for me. “My God, why? How could this be, Lord help me. This is just not possible. Mandy, was so young, surely You were not finished with her yet? ” I sobbed, my heart breaking for my loss.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually about 15 minutes, I began to feel God’s peace envelop me. Presence of mind returned and I began to wonder what would happen next.
As you can imagine, the collapse of the I85 bridge over the Missehaga river made headline news all over the nation. Many people lost their lives that day, many families lives were changed never to be normal again. Husbands lost their wives, wives their husbands and children their parents, it was devastating!
The shock waves continued for days, and those who knew Mandy were stunned to think of the horror she must have experienced when this happened. Imagination runs wild in tragedy.
I asked the Lord if He would let me know how Mandy felt and how she was now. In His kindness and love for me and my loss He gave me a dream that I want to relay to you.
I found myself in a garden, the most beautiful garden I had ever seen. Some of the colors were like we have on earth, but more brilliant, deep and rich than any I had seen, there were other colors that I had never seen on earth. The smell was “Heavenly” (smile) and there was the most beautiful music coming from everything. It seemed like a park, in a way, and yet was a garden, it is hard to explain.
Anyway, I was taking in the wonder of it all when I saw someone come walking toward me and I recognized that it was Mandy. I ran to her and embraced her. She looked beautiful, radiant. We sat down on a lovely garden bench and began to talk.
Mandy told me that when she felt the car shake and began to fall, she was terrified and fear began to engulf her. The car hit the water hard and the next thing she knew she was in Heaven. Jesus told her that her neck broke at that point and he had angels right there to take her to Heaven, so she never experienced the horror of drowning. Thank you Lord!
She encouraged me that she was wonderfully happy and free at last from the heaviness of things of earth and that I would be with her soon. I woke up from this dream with God’s peace and the assurance that Mandy was fine.
God is so good! I hope to spend the rest of my time on this planet thanking Him and telling of His love for people.
I hope you know Him, whom my soul loves. He is a friend that is closer than a brother, as the scripture says. He will be with you in all of the trials, tests, troubles and temptations of life, if you will ask Him to come in.
This story is a composite of many people and many experiences. I hope you enjoyed it!