Her text came on a Tuesday morning.
"...my dad died last night..."
I lost my breath for a moment and then my heart burst into a million pieces for my friend. She had already grieved the loss of her mother before we met 13 years ago and I couldn't even begin to imagine the pain she would be feeling with such unexpected news.
It didn't take long before I got the crazy idea to go to her. By some strange and divine appointment, My Love eventually supported my plans. After playing out each scenario out loud, the best travel option was decided for me to drive there with our four happy little travelers. It was going to be a spontaneous 700-mile adventure.
We decided to tell my friend of my intentions to come for her father's funeral. Plans had been made and accommodations booked. And as we predicted, she insisted I didn't need to make the trip and would rather us come visit later on after the shock had worn off. She wanted to have something good to look forward to.
"Ok," I said. "I can respect that."
I hung up the phone and turned to My Love and said, "She told me not to come but I'm going to anyway." And by another act of God, he was still ok with it. My Love's travel points paid for our two night hotel stay and a friend was willing to help out with the dog while My Love worked. It was time to pack for our road trip.
In what was essentially a grand gesture of God's love for my friend, I drove through four states with no expectation of spending any real time with her. I was merely going to give her a hug and show my moral support by attending the funeral.
I loaded up the kids in the minivan at 2:45am on a Monday and arrived at our final destination in a small town in rural Indiana 13 hours later. The kids took a swim in the hotel pool and we ate dinner locally before calling it a night.
The next day we made our way to the funeral home prior to the Catholic Mass being held at a church nearby. I saw her from the back in an adjacent room off the main hallway and I gently touched her arm. She turned toward me, jumped back with a gasp and covered her mouth trying to hold back tears.
"I didn't respect your words," I said. "But sometimes a girl has to give a friend a hug." She burst into tears.
We hugged and cried and hugged some more. She held the baby and snuggled each of my older children as I in turn hugged on the two of hers.
"How long was that drive?" she asked worried about all the trouble I had gone through for this moment.
"It doesn't matter," I reassured her. "Sometimes you do hard things for people you love."
More tears and hugs.
The service was beautiful. Even though I had never met her father, I felt like I knew him. What a sweet man. My friend looked in my direction as she walked down the aisle following behind the casket to her seat. In that moment as she blew a kiss my direction with tears streaming down her face I knew in my heart I was right where God wanted me to be in this world. We visited with her and her family briefly a few more times before it was already times to say goodbye. In God's grace, the four children had been perfect little travelers. We packed up the van and took one more sleep before starting our 700-mile road trip back home to Virginia.
As I drove on the beautiful roadway that is highway 64, I couldn't help but think about how radically God loves. And now that I knew I was capable of being used by him to show love in a big way, it was now time to allow his radical love to flow through me in my own home--toward my husband and children.