I have seen and met angels disguised as ordinary people living ordinary lives.
While running by the river a few years ago in the midst of my life turning inside out and upside down, I noticed another woman runner, who looked familiar to me. As she ran closer, I recognized and remembered who she was. She recognized me, too. We stopped and began excitedly talking at the same time.
“It’s so great to see you! Oh my gosh, how are you?!?!”
She admitted that this was the first time she’d ever run in this neighborhood. She liked running outside but usually drove to a fitness center to work out. I shared that I ran almost every single day on this path.
We had met several years ago. She facilitated seminars for transformational trainings in which I had participated. I felt the warm rush of gratitude all over again for her guidance, wisdom, and coaching. Her bright yellow running jacket complimented her smile, presence, beauty, and radiant energy on that dark, cloudy, cold March day.
She asked about my life. I told her my marriage had ended, that I was selling the house and moving to another house in this same neighborhood in the beginning of May. Hearing about my divorce, she noted that her long-term relationship had also come to an end, that since her break-up she had met another love.
“When are you moving, Laura? I can come help you move!”
“In the beginning of May, and that would be great. I’d love your support. That’s really kind of you to offer! Thank you!!”
We exchanged contact information along with a hug and more words of what a wonderful surprise to see each other again.
Moving day arrived. The sun shone brightly through clear blue skies that morning. She drove up and got out of her compact car. We hugged each other. I introduced her to my friends, my daughter, who had just completed her freshman year in college and her friends. I felt this overwhelming sensation of love for all these wonderful people who had generously shown up to help me alongside my focused “Let’s Move!” self. Much squealing and hugging took place as we gathered ourselves together.
When the young men from Two Men and a Truck pulled up, the moving party began. I felt the excitement in the air as all these young people-the movers and my daughter and her friends seemed to notice one another in a kind, celebratory way. Some innocent flirting may have taken place.
Friends commented on how incredibly organized I was. Stacked labeled boxes filled the living room ready for departure. The grab, load, and go began in earnest. The movers loaded the large furniture and containers onto the truck. The rest of us loaded vehicles and a pick-up truck. Everyone knew their tasks.
By noon, my kitchen had been unpacked by my daughter and her friends. At this juncture, I offered all of my team food. Maribeth declined. Instead, she made another generous offer.
“I would like to mow your front yard.”
Like every person in the entire neighborhood, she had noticed the knee-high grass mixed with thousands of dandelions in both the large front yard and the bowling alley back yard. Renters had vacated the house in November. The previous owner lived out of state and had hired people to do only the bare minimum to sell the house.
“Really?” I didn’t have much experience with this chore. My son and his dad had been the lawnmowers at the family house.
“Hey, Laura, I love to mow lawns! I mow the lawn at my house. I really would like to do this for you, but I need to change into other clothes because it’s gotten really hot.”
“Okay. Thank you so much, Maribeth! Again, this is such a kindness. I really appreciate this. I will get the lawnmower out of the garage for you.”
Those who could stay ate pizza and drank water or soda on the back patio.
Maribeth returned and mowed the front yard until the electric mower’s battery needed recharging. I thanked her, hugged her, and promised to take her to lunch with the other friends who hadn’t been able to stay for pizza.
Four of us, including Maribeth, met a couple months later for lunch, laughed a great deal about the move, and updated one another on good things in our lives. Happy to treat these dear friends to a meal, I felt much joy and gratitude for the ways they had shown up for me.
Maribeth and I promised to stay in touch after that lunch. A few months flew by. On a cold February morning close to Valentine’s Day, I received a call from a cherished long- time friend, who had helped me on moving day and laughed with me during that lunch gathering.
“Laura, you probably want to sit down. I have awful news. Maribeth is dead. She was murdered. I know you don’t watch the news and probably don’t want to. I just knew I needed to call you right away—as soon as I heard. She was stabbed to death in her own home. There were no signs of breaking and entering. She likely knew the suspect. The story is all over the local news stations and on Facebook. I knew you’d want to know. I’m so sorry. This is so unbelievably tragic.”
I could barely breathe. Shock left me almost speechless. Finally, some words spilled out of me.
“I’m so grateful you called. Thank you for being the person I am hearing this news from. Oh, I’m stunned. I love you so very much. Oh, Teresa. I love you so very much. Oh, kind, loving Maribeth. Oh. Oh. Oh. Thank you for calling. I love you.”
“I love you so much, too, Laura. We’ll talk really soon. I will see you at the library on Thursday morning.”
I had no idea Maribeth lived at risk of death, let alone murder. I knew so little. She is the only person I know who has died so violently. The difficult process of accepting her death continues even after a handful of years have passed.
By sharing this with all of you, I celebrate her life, her love, her kindness, the earth angel she was and now heavenly angel she will always be.
By choosing to be kind to other people, by thinking of the many positive ways she touched my life and many other people’s lives, I honor Maribeth. I will always remember her.
May you know how precious life really is. May you graciously receive the kindness of friends and give generously of your gifts while you are here. May you break your silence if you suspect domestic violence.