Everybody at the paper has a favorite Rick story.
Mine was the day in 2009 that he let Zac and I pack the bed of his little Toyota truck with as much of our bedroom suit as it would hold. He transported our furniture all the way from Jasper to Cordova for us, and the only thing I ever gave the man for his trouble was doughnuts.
That’s just the kind of guy he was.
None of us was prepared for Rick to be taken so soon.
I don’t know what went through everybody else’s mind as they came to terms with the news, but the thought I kept coming back to was “It’s not right.”
It’s not right that a man goes out to cut his grass and never comes home.
It’s not right that a woman who has already lost a father and a daughter since 2010 is now without her husband too.
It’s not right that you get to love a person, fight with them, make dinner and vacation plans with them without also getting the memo that they’re about to be gone.
As one friend put it in a text to me, “I know God has a reason for everything, but days like today make me wonder what his deal is.”
At some point on Thursday, I think God tried to help me understand what His deal is — He doesn’t think it’s right either.
Our current Sunday School series is called “God’s Story.” The first lesson recapped the Bible’s account of the creation and the fall.
These days, people are more apt to read those three chapters as fable or perhaps parable than fact, but I have yet to find a more acceptable explanation of why the world is such an ugly place.
The Earth itself is beautiful. It’s people who are responsible for most of the unthinkable things that occur here.
Sometimes bad things that no one has any control over happen to good people. Our reaction to these situations that just aren’t right must be God telling us, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”
There has to have been a better plan that got messed up pretty badly somewhere along the way, leaving all of humanity reeling from the repercussions.
But why do some have to bear the brunt of it more than others?
I don’t think we’re ever going to be allowed to know that. However, it has occurred to me that the people in my life who have suffered the most are the very ones who will look me straight in the eye and say, “God is good.”
Rick’s wife, Elane, put it another way to our boss upon hearing that some of Rick’s co-workers were having a rough time — “Y’all just need to realize that stuff happens.”
Stuff happens. Typical no-nonsense Elane, or “The Wise One” as we call her around the office.
When James told me what she had said, I laughed for what felt like the first time in 24 hours. Here I was doing all this worrying and she proved it all pointless with “stuff happens.”
“I think David said that one time,” James joked. As it turns out, he sort of did.
After David was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba, the son they had had together through their unholy relationship became very sick.
David did all he could for his child. He prayed. He fasted. In the end, God took the boy’s life just as He said He would do.
When his servants broke the news to David, he picked himself up, cleaned up and went on about his day. That reaction startled his servants, who perhaps thought that he was either in denial or had gone stark raving mad.
David explained that fasting and crying would no longer do him or his son any good.
“Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me,” David said.
I am learning more and more everyday that the answers I seek were found ages ago by people like David.
Where death is concerned, we can’t really know when death comes, why or even where our loved ones are in the moment after they take their final breath.
We are left only with the assurance that one day, we shall go to them.