18, No Time to Waste

Chapter Seventeen

   SUNDAY MORNING THE DOORBELL RANG; it was Felicia and her mother. When Felicia had phoned her mother in Texas, all she could say was, "Mother, Kathi's dead." Her mother had flown immediately to be with her and here, for the first time, I met her.

   "Felicia, forgive me," I said as I embraced her and began to cry. "I was envious, I suppose, because you and Kathi were so close." I sobbed out all the emotions I had carried inside so long.

   The three of us spent most of that day getting to know each other. I could feel Kathi's presence, warm and real, so happy that at last I had accepted and loved her best friend. Perhaps many misunderstandings could have been avoided if we had all met and talked together two years ago.

   "Kathi never let me down, not once," Felicia told me. "She promised me if I made it back to California, she'd live with me, at least through the summer. And she kept her word, even though she knew it was hurting you."

   Our house was filled with family and friends — Kathi's friends flocked to the door . . . food . . . flowers . . .telephone calls from distant states . . . and always, those words of blessed comfort, "We sorrow not as others who have no hope."

   How can one have peace at a time like this, but peace it was — spreading through me, perfect and pure, the peace that passes all understanding — the peace of God.

   In faraway Brazil, Jim and Ann Wallis were frantically trying to get permission to leave the country. It couldn't have been at a worse time. All permission had been temporarily postponed due to political upheavals in the government. It looked as though it would be impossible.

   Friends all over the United States formed a chain of prayer that God would work miracles to let them come home.

   On Tuesday the suspense was great. Dave was still on the critical list, and we had heard no word from Brazil. A few men from our church got together and theorized, "If you wanted to talk to someone in Brazil, what would you do?"

   "You would pick up the phone and ask the operator if you could place a call to Brazil," one man said.

  "That's what we'll do."

   The call went through immediately, and they learned that the Wallises were already in flight on their way home to the States and would arrive in Salinas on Wednesday to see Dave.

   We learned later that it had been a miracle from the hand of the Lord to open the heart of a high official of the Brazilian government to allow them to leave at such an inopportune time.

   Vern and I knew that, along with Joe and Veda Quatro, we would have to make arrangements for the funeral to be held Thursday.

   As we started out the door to meet Joe at the funeral home, I turned to look at Kathi's graduation picture. A casket for her? My vibrant, dancing "that girl"? I held tightly to Vern's hand, gathering strength for the task ahead of me.

   When we met Joe at the funeral home, he told us all the details of the accident. The car had somehow gone over the median and into the path of oncoming traffic. How it happened no one knew.

   I was picturing the little red Mustang traveling along the curved highway, four laughing teen-agers, talking, munching on candy bars, so happy from their week at camp. Did they see it coming? Was it too sudden for them to realize they were going to have a head-on collision?

   However it happened, why it happened was not for us to know. And now we had to choose a final resting place for our three children. Our hearts were deeply touched when dear friends graciously offered three graves next to each other in beautiful Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth.

   That night when we were home, Vern handed me the tiny blue birthstone Kathi had been wearing at the time of the accident. I held it tenderly. Kathi had loved it so much and had worn it always. I thought lovingly of John, who was in the service now, and remembered the night he had so proudly given Kathi this little ring.

   God had again done abundantly above all I could ask or think. I had Kathi's letter, her final testimony to her love for Jesus Christ, and I had this little ring, a tribute to her abiding friendships. I didn't know it then, but I was to have more, so much more.

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