I’d like to share with you a story that quite literally rescued my sanity. As some of you know, my daughter, Tabitha, was killed by two men street racing on Broadway in Lenoir City on January 10, 2004. She was 18 years old. The initial shock of having her ripped from my life was soon overshadowed by a deep hurt that settled in and became my constant companion. Nothing short of my other daughter or one of my grandchildren dying could ever compare with that kind of sorrow.
I was raised in church from the time I was born with the exception of leaving the church I attended for 20 years shortly before Tabitha died, ( this concerned my divorce), and until I discovered Canvas Church, I had not been in church since her death, (I waited a long time to find you, my church family 🙂 Having been taught the bible and being raised in church, I have always had a very healthy respect for God and have loved Him all of my life regardless of the times I disappointed and turned away from Him, so when Tabitha was killed I never ever blamed God. Not once. I knew the men street racing were responsible for her death and God was gracious enough to take her with no suffering. Tabitha was a gentle and sweet soul that truly loved everyone and she always had a special relationship with God. She was an extraordinary compassionate young lady with a very bright future. Her plan was to be a journalist because her writing skills were powerful and moving. (Her life is a different story for another time). I had absolutely no doubt my child was with Jesus and my dad, whom she loved very much and went to be with the Lord when Tabitha was 7 years old. Even with this knowledge, the loss of her was nearly unbearable.
In my desperation I reached out to sources besides God because I wanted so badly to communicate with her. I was robbed of any goodbyes; she was here one minute and gone in the next. I spent a lot of money on psychics and those who were thinly veiled as “Divine Readers” working in the Heavenly realms. In my heart I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I was grasping for any shred of my child I could get. I had family and friends who spat hateful words and accusations at me condemning me for what I was doing. They had no idea the depth of my pain. I lost 25 pounds and my health was deteriorating. I wanted to die and be with her. I fantasized about it. (You have no idea what you’d do in that situation so I’m careful when God sends a person that has lost a child my way, and He does it quite often). I am so thankful for the people in my life that loved me and lifted me up to God in my darkest of times because those prayers protected me while I delved in things that God forbids us to do.
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.
I still prayed to God everyday asking Him to help me and give me the strength to face another endless night followed by another empty day. I withdrew from everyone, even my other daughter to some extent. I’ve never been comfortable with pity, in fact, I can’t tolerate it. I appreciated the kind words and deeds from countless people, but not pity. I hated it when people looked at me with pity, it made me feel even more isolated, like I was diseased.
One night about a year after her death and a particularly difficult couple of days with empty words from those who were either charlatans or possessed with the familiar spirit of a demon, I completely lost it. I went into my bedroom and for the first time I got angry with God, indignant even. I yelled at Him in my brokenness and I left any fear of Him behind. I screamed through tears and said, “You have her for an eternity, why can’t I have her for just one moment!?” I literally screamed a guttural primal cry that was my pain manifesting into a tangible release of emotions that left a heaviness in the room and caused me to collapse onto my bed. I wept for a very long time, tired and alone except for my beloved, now deceased, German shepherd, Maja, who was my canine soul mate that gave me great comfort in our bond. (She’s another story for another time).
Sleep did come that night and when it did something supernatural happened! I found myself sitting at a long table lit by light that seemed to come from nowhere, everything surrounding it was darkened. Suddenly I felt a presence behind me. I stood and turned to find Tabitha standing there with a smile that was so bright! I was, at first, confused so I said, “Tabitha, what are you doing here?” She replied with an even brighter smile, “Well, you asked to see me didn’t you?” I was trembling as I reached out to her and felt the warmth and texture of her skin. I took her in my arms and held her and smelled the scent of her. I felt her heart beating, the same heart that was taken from her body and given to a man so he could have a second chance at life. I rubbed the fuzz that she always had on the back of her neck and stroked her soft hair. I breathed her in and held her a long moment and felt her arms hugging me back. Then after a while she pulled away from me still smiling that brilliant smile and she said, “I have to go now, Mom”. I said, “Please don’t go”. She then told me, “We’ll be together again, Mom”. Tabitha then started sort of flowing backward all the while that smile shining brightly until she vanished.
Instantly I was awake in my bed. I could still feel her warmth, smell her, and sense her. A peace came over me and I sat in my bed and wept, but this time it was for joy! I had never felt such love in my life! The kind of love that comes only from God! He lifted my burden and the heaviness in my room was replaced with a happiness that I’ve never known! That very moment I began to heal.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
I look back on that night and realize that I pitched a fit on God like a child! I giggled about it afterward when I thought of it that way. I threw a tantrum and my Father gave in to me. I don’t know why God waited for a year to let me have that encounter with Tabitha, make no mistake, it was not a dream. I’m a vivid dreamer and I had never, nor since, experienced texture, warmth, scent, and a heartbeat in a dream. Maybe He had to let me wander in order to bring me back, dabble in evil so I’d know it’s a lie, come to Him in utter despair and pour my soul out to Him while demanding a miracle. His timing is perfect even when we don’t understand. Whatever the reason, He allowed me that moment and it turned my life around. It wasn’t completely instant and I still struggle some days and I miss Tabitha more than I can describe in mere words and I will until we are together again, but I speak about her in uplifting ways and I tell people that we are only separated for a while…it’s not forever! I choose to be happy and am extremely grateful for my daughter, Cierra, and my 3, (and one on the way), grand kids. God has been so good to me and blessed me.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs by David Crowder, “How He Loves Us”. It says that He is jealous for me. God was jealous and hurt when I sought help outside of Him and it breaks my heart that I allowed myself to be deceived, especially when all the while I knew better. The song states that He is a hurricane and we are the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. Thank you, God, for having mercy for me and being patient with me. Then it says that suddenly I am unaware of this affliction eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me! Oh, how He loves us!
I know this is a bittersweet story, but it’s meant to encourage you and I felt compelled to share it. Death is part of life and we can’t allow it to swallow us up so that we stop living. I could have made even worse choices like turning to drugs or alcohol to numb me, but I didn’t and I thank God for that too.Tabitha was a precious girl, my first born, and I know she would be disappointed in me if I let her death stop me from receiving God’s blessings. After all she is more alive now than ever!