Over the years, I used to dream about them.
When they first left our church, I dreamt frequently that she and I were together in their home, finishing a Bible study or finishing lunch, laughing — and always, that sound mingled with the noise of her two girls, who played at our feet.
Sometimes, I dreamt that I saw him on the street, and he wasn’t angry anymore. I found just the right words, in those dreams, to tell him how much we loved them both … and how much we missed them. I woke crying after more than one such dream.
Once I actually saw her driving behind me in their family van. I caught her eye in the mirror and waved. She waved back. Her husband — in writing — had forbidden me to talk with her, even threatening to sue me if I ever made contact, but I couldn’t help but turn and mouth through the back window, “I miss you.” She mouthed it back, and the tears came before I could stop them.
When my husband learned, through the freely given admission of our friend, that he was contemplating and taking steps toward a disastrous decision — one that would jeopardize if not outright destroy his marriage and the security of his children — Dave acted. He responded to the pleas of this man’s wife and stood in the gap between our friend and his desired choice. My husband’s firm action infuriated our friend. The last time he stood in our church, it was in the doorway of my husband’s office, where he raised his voice and yelled, “I could line up a hundred pastors, and not one of them would have done what you did.” But my husband had simply obeyed God … and helped save a family.
The choice had been halted. The family stayed together, and stayed in our town. They changed churches, obviously, but maintained a few mutual friendships. Sometimes I’d hear news about them, such as when their third child was born. The news was always bittersweet. I’d be happy for them, and grieved for us — grieved that our church family was missing out on joys that should have been ours.
I must have stopped and prayed a hundred times over the years, “Please, Father, help him to know that Dave acted because he loved him.”
Not long ago, on a Tuesday night, Dave came home from the church office and gave me a look that promised he’d brought news. “I want you to read something,” he said.
He opened his laptop, navigated to his mailbox, and brought up an email. I began reading — first the name of the sender, and then the words, “Dear Pastor Dave.” The tears came so fast and so hard that I couldn’t continue reading. I had to stop first and let six years of sadness run their course before I could take in those healing words.
He’d written four pages. What it all settled down to, was this: I’ve known for many years that I needed to say this to you. I was wrong to pull my family away from people who loved them, and who they loved. We’ve missed so much because I did that. I created a gap that shouldn’t have been there. Pastor Dave, will you forgive me?
I don’t remember ever feeling so light. We closed the laptop, put our shoes on, and drove off. Within five minutes, we turned down a road I’d missed, pulled up to a house I’d missed, and knocked on a door I thought I’d never approach again. He answered, and swung that door open. There wasn’t time enough for surprise to register in his eyes, because my husband didn’t hesitate. He reached first to take our friend’s hand, and then pulled him into an embrace. I stood behind, and watched six years of regret melt away. The intensity on our friend’s face, as he accepted and returned my husband’s embrace, is a look I will see forever.
“We never stopped loving or missing you,” I said, as I accepted my own hug. And then his wife was there, and I got the tearful reunion I’d prayed for and dreamt about.
Our God heals silent wounds and secret longings and dreams that seem long past mending. He whispers words to those who no longer hear us. He nudges hearts, and opens doors we’re powerless to open.
And sometimes, He surprises.
Cora Welch says
I can never hear that story enough. Thanks for sharing. . . again.
Anita Scheftner says
Wow…He knows our hearts..and loves us anyways..lol..what a testament for His grace and forgiveness…for the hearts He melts and gives us back a heart of flesh and not stone..I love this story! Thank you for sharing!
Anita Scheftner says
I had to read it again! Love this!
Absolutely beautiful story, Shannon. Your writing pulled me in. I was standing over your shoulder at the computer and behind you at the doorway. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! It’s a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. And I loved the photos. Perfect!
Raymond L. Britt says
My name is Raymond L. Britt, a use to be son-in-law of a woman by the name of Mizell.
This woman passed away in early 2012, whose grandmother was also named “Cora Welch” This Cora’s husband’s surname was Green, from Locust Point, Ohio. At present, there are only 23 women in the United States and Canada(computer statistic) with the name of Cora Welch. Therefore, the probability you are connected to this Cora Welch should be very high.
For several days I have looked on and off for Cora and my former mother-in-laws grandmother. This morning I spent only a couple of hours on the Internet and found a link I needed. I went to that link and there she was, with all 5000+ family members.
Though I did not learn of my former wife’s grandmother name, I got more than I had hoped to get, especially within a very short time. The name very well could be on the list, somewhere, but that will have to wait. Of course I am doing this for the three live children (out of eight pregnancies) my former wife and I had. That story is long, but has to do with the chemical “agent orange” and the Vietnam War.
You are indeed a writer, one with professional abilities, and know completely around your choice of words and the English language. I should know, because my son, now 27 years old, and a grandson of the above Cora Welch, graduated last year with a 4.0 in his master’s course in English. He not only graduated magna cum laude from his graduation class and college, but also won the Thesis Competition from his college, too. He now is a professional lecturer at a close by college, receiving many kudos from faculty, students, and administrators alike.
I just desired to comment to you about the name of “Cora Welch”, who she was, and about your work, after finding her this morning, and the computer taking me to you early this AM.
Your story is indeed very well written, and I can only hope and pray that one of his great grandparents had the love, the interest and the abilities to be similar to you. We will never know her, due to the fact that her grand daughter always kept a closed mouth about her side of the family, but with a renewed desire to learn something about the side of the family which was kept from everyone, there must be something within the family just waiting to be found about her.
With over 5000 instant made relatives in over 3500 families, there has to be something.
Please keep writing, if for no one else but you!
Sgt Raymond L. Britt, USMC
OAMAAM, VMO-6, MAG-36, 1st MAW
Vietnam War Veteran
Cold War Veteran
Sgt Britt, thank you so much for commenting, and for your kind words. Cora is a dear friend of mine. I will be sure to pass your message to her. Thank you for your service to our country … I am so sorry that the effects of your service caused you and your (ex) wife the loss of so many children. God bless you!
Sgt Raymond L. Britt says
Thank you also. After reading my post after posted, I discovered I left your name off of my remarks. So sorry. But, you picked up on that one. I do think so fast sometimes that it bothers me, especially when I make mistakes, like this one.
I enjoy so much stumbling onto works such as yours, it is almost like a breath of fresh air after reading what some writers place on the internet. May I ask where you went to college? Someone did a very well J O B with you as well as my son, but the both of you did the work.
At 65 years old now, my service in the Marine Corps and the Vietnam War means so much to me. I saw a lot of the world I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and did things that people just do not believe!
Very much appreciate your works!
Sgt R. L. Britt, USMC
You are very kind. 🙂 I received my B.A. from Western Washington University, but my degree was in Elementary Education. I had always loved to write, but had no plans to be a writer until my son was a toddler, and I began to understand (by watching him) the depth of God’s love for me. I think parenting is a gift in that way–it gives you a reference point to begin to understand His grace. All that thinking needed to spill out, and I started writing devotionals and articles that I eventually began to submit and sell. I still didn’t think of myself as a writer, though. It wasn’t until I received a “letter to the editor” from a man dying of a terminal cancer, who found a small measure of comfort in something I had written, that I began to think that maybe God intended writing to be a bigger part of my life than just a hobby. That revelation led to two books: “A Whisper in Winter ~ Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life,” and “Inconceivable ~ Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility.” Over the last several years, I have devoted my time to helping others produce their books, but I do hope to get back to my own writing eventually. For now, it’s nice to have a blog as an outlet. 🙂
My daughter is about to sign on with the Army. She is 17 and taking classes at our local community college. She will be with the reserves first and then hopes to go active duty and continue training in the medical field. I hope that like you, she has a chance to see the world. I want her to bring home only good memories, though. 🙂
I shared your comment with Cora, and I believe she will be responding to you here. She is always telling me how few Coras there are out there … even fewer Cora Welches! 🙂
I just realized I have a post with a picture of both Cora and her husband, Chris (who would likely be the one related to your former mother-in-law). It’s on this post: