Monday, July 26, 2010

Story Time

I met an angel on Saturday night.

I am a firm believer that God puts people in our lives, at specific moments, just when we need it the most. There is just no other way to explain what I am about to tell you.

I went on a mini vacation with my girls from college this past weekend. It's a thing we do every year, and this year was no exception. After a long day at the beach and the pool on Saturday, we decided to go to Olive Garden for dinner. The girls dropped me off to put our name on the list while they parked the car. This particular restaurant had just opened, so it was already slam-packed for dinner at 5:00. Our wait time was about an hour, but the hostess informed me that the booths at the bar were first come-first serve. I waited at the corner of the bar for a table to come available, and we were seated within 10 minutes. Score!

About the time we put in our dinner orders, a man walked by our table. I instantly noticed his right arm and I gasped. My girls turned to look in the direction of my agape mouth and widened eyes and, about that time, I burst into tears. His right arm was an exact, older version of Ethan's left. Take Ethan's arm, add about 30-some years to it, some hair, and there you go.

As I sat with my tear-stained face buried in my hands, I hear one of my girls ask me if I'm sad. I shook my head "no" because I wasn't. I was so incredibly overwhelmed with hope and encouragement. It was one of the most emotional moments I've experienced.

I managed to re-gain my composure just in time for our food to come out. I texted Jeramie to let him know what had just happened and he asked right away if I had talked to him. About that same time, my girls began to encourage me to strike up a conversation with him. As much as I wanted to, I had such mixed emotions.

"He's at dinner with his wife; he doesn't want to be interrupted" ...

"What if I offend him?" ...

"But, what if I don't talk to him; will I regret it later?" ...

"How do I even start a conversation like that?" ...

It helped that he and his wife ended up sitting at the table right in front of us, but my stomach was in knots through most of dinner. I would get myself all pumped up, then chicken out again. It wasn't until I overheard him tell our waiter that he is from the Raleigh/Durham area, that I knew I had to say something.

After we paid for our meals, the girls got up to go get the car and I summoned up enough courage to stop by his table on the way out. I'm really not exactly sure what I said, but I know that I introduced myself and mentioned that I'm from Raleigh as well. I started to talk about Ethan, and then I cried. Again.

He and his wife were instantly open to talking with me and, despite my apologies for interrupting their dinner, they insisted that we go outside and talk some more. He proceeded to tell me about his experience of growing up with an arm like Ethan's and he did not seem to miss out on anything! He played sports (very well, actually), received scholarships, and is a former police officer. When someone told him he couldn't, that just motivated him even more.

His perspective and sense of humor is something that I pray Jeramie and I can instill in Ethan. If Ethan grows up to do half of the things that this man has done, and has the attitude he has about it all, I will be so very proud.

Just to make the story even crazier, he goes on to tell me that he works at Duke for a cardiologist AND his wife used to work in the OR at Duke with Ethan's cardiac surgeon, Dr. Jaggers. I can't even make this stuff up.

We exchanged contact information and I thanked him and his wife, over and over, for talking with me. The amount of hope I have gained from a 20 minute conversation is absolutely unreal.

I find myself reliving that moment of seeing him walk into the restaurant. I can't explain the feeling at that very second. It was as if I imagined Ethan, a confident young man on vacation at the beach, going out on a date with his wife. A wife who loves him for who he is and for all the things that makes him special.

And that, my friends, does this mama's heart good.

So very good.

"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"
-Hebrews 1:14


PamO said...

Wow. Cold chills. Thanks for sharing! God sends encouragement our way when we need it, doesn't he?

I am originally from Cary and still have all my family there, so I would love to meet sometime when we are up.

Mandy said...

wow Joye what an amazing story!!

Stefenie said...

Goosebumps....tears....happy smiles....I am experiencing it all right now. Wow!! I too believe that God places those people in our lives for a reason. Isn't it great how He knows exactly what we need?

How wonderful for you to get that opportunity Joye! {{{HUG}}}

Anonymous said...

Amen, Amen. I cannot even imagine how you felt Joye. I believe the same way you do, God puts certain people in our paths. I am so glad that you did talk to him. Look how much more you learned of what Ethan can be capable of in his future.

I look to forward to watching Ethan grow and excel, as I know he will.

Love you guys!
Grandma A.

kerry said...

This is a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

mossfamily said...

I am so glad you mustered up the courage to talk to this man. Sometimes God just puts people right in front of you & think of what you would have missed if you hadn't introduced yourself! I am sure Ethan will find a wonderful woman who will love him for how special he is & this story gave me goosebumps!

David Meyer said...

What a wonderful story, told so beautifully. Thanks Joye.

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