“Michele, so often we find that life is not an orderly process……. even with the best laid plans.”
These were the words Carol Hemingway shared with me, Author/Astrologer and Daughter of Earnest Hemingway in August of 2012.
May 19, 2010, was my last night of class at Northwestern College. A few years earlier, I had gone back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in counseling.
My husband was a handsome man, with sparkling eyes and wore a signature broad and engaging smile. He was a super-athlete, had huge compassion, and accepted everyone. He was the strongest man I knew, in character, physical strength – and the strongest man I knew spiritually.
Gary was a wonderful husband who truly made an effort to encourage me every day. We had similar interests, beliefs and values. We worked out together, had regular date nights, rode bicycles, traveled, worked on projects together and whenever I had a great idea – I could count on him to support it. Life was good.
He rode his bicycle to the marina, on Lake Minnetonka, in the morning, on May 19, 2010. The 40 mile ride, to our home in Andover, generally took him only an hour and 35 to an hour and 37 minutes. My husband and I had planned to celebrate graduation after class that night. We had plans to celebrate that night, plans to sail with friends that week and plans for life.
My professor let us out of class a little early that night. It was about 9:20 p.m. and I was driving home via 35W. I called Gary but he didn’t answer. Less than a minute later, I received a call from a strange number. I took the call. A man identified himself as the Hennepin County medical examiner.
While I continued my drive down 35W, my mind worked to process why this man would call me. Denial prevailed as I told the stranger that he could not be serious. He informed me that he had my husband’s cell phone, which was how he had learned my number. The voice went on to tell me that my husband had been killed in an accident earlier that evening, when he collided with a vehicle in Plymouth, MN.
That kind of news will suck the air right of a person… making it very difficult to breathe – or to focus on driving… As my world collapsed, I asked the stranger. “What do I do with this….I am driving home from school [on 35W].” He told me to continue driving and to call him when I reached my home. My husband never came home. We were newlyweds… just transitioning into our new life together. The graduation celebration never took place.
The pain of this huge loss was overwhelming; I was so broken. I knew Gary was listening to KTIS on his way home from work that night so I emailed KTIS to ask for the list of songs he was listening to on his way home. Jason Sharp, the station manager for KTIS, provided the play list. Gary was listening to the perfect song as he entered heaven that evening: Jared Anderson’s Rescue. “I need you, Jesus, to come to my rescue/rescue me with Grace/I will follow you.” My husband was a man of faith and I knew instantly, he was in heaven, but, the pain for a spouse left behind is far worse than anything I could have imagined.
Shortly after the accident a local morning talk show host, Pam, reached out to me to offer support. She had lost her husband a few years prior to my loss. She listened and offered hope that only someone had walked that path could. She had survived her loss.
You can have all the plans in the world…..for an afternoon or evening….but, those plans can change in an instant. Pam Lundell, a fellow widow, and morning talk show host from KTIS, reached out to me, after the loss of my husband, and shared our story on the air.
A few months after the accident, I contacted a former business associate, Pete, who had lost his wife and step-son in a helicopter crash. The accident had occurred a few years earlier. I was desperately searching for hope and peace from the incredible pain.
Pete, a widower who had survived enormous loss, listened to me, in my great pain. He encouraged and supported me whenever I called. We have met every three to four months since the accident, as a “check-in” and I always leave our meetings feeling I have progressed and can move forward.
One Monday evening, I felt “drawn” to drive downtown; being a girl from the suburbs, downtown Minneapolis was a place I generally stayed away from. I needed energy. I was still sad and numb. I needed to get out of the house – away from all of the memories. It was time to be with people so, I intentionally put on a power suit and grabbed study materials and followed my intuition.
As I drove down Hennepin Avenue, and approached a stop light on 8th, I saw a valet parking sign at the Capital Grille. With relief, I pulled into the valet parking space and handed over my car. Inside the Capital Grille, I found a table in the corner of the bar area. I opened my study materials and ordered a bite to eat and a glass of pinot noir. It was a Monday evening so, it wasn’t busy.
There were two very successful-looking, charismatic men at the bar. They had a presence. I was just working to function. It was nice to be anonymous and at the same time to be able to observe people enjoying life. Approximately a half hour later, the two walked over with the intention of sitting at the table next to mine. The man across from me asked if I cared to join them in conversation. With gratitude, I accepted.
The powerful and handsome man seated next to me announced that he was happily married. The man seated across from me, smiled and asked me if I knew who I was sitting next to. I looked at the kind man with sparkling eyes and politely answered “No.”
“Have you heard the name Jim Marshall?”
Trying to be polite, I answered “That name sounds familiar.”
“Have you heard of the ‘Purple People Eaters?'” he asked, offering another clue.
Thankfully, that clue worked. Realization struck – he was a former NFL/Vikings football player… more specifically, the former captain of the Vikings football team, with four Super Bowls under his belt.
Jim asked me, “And, do you know who you are sitting across from?”
“No,” I answered. I certainly didn’t know this man.
“This is Joel,” he informed me. It turned out Joel was the CEO of a large food conglomerate.
“Do you believe there is a purpose for everything?” asked Jim.
“I do,” I confirmed quietly.
“We have been friends for over 35 years” Joel announced.
“We believe our purpose tonight is to be here with you,” Jim kindly offered.
I shared the amazing coincidences that continued to occur over the previous months. I had followed my intuition and it had led me to meet incredible people. Jim, with a knowing look on his face and sparkle in his eye… nodded his head in agreement as he told me to always follow my intuition.
“Intuition is your best advocate for success. Intuition is your knowledge, common sense, it’s that gut feeling you get…” he shared.
“And, there’s a spiritual component” I added.
He nodded again… he already knew.
He deliberately listed the insights, “First Insight… Second Insight…Third Insight…Fourth Insight… Fifth Insight…Sixth Insight… Seventh Insight… Eighth Insight… Ninth Insight…” as I watched him with interest.
“You need to read the Celestine Prophecy” he stated. “You will find the answers there,” he confirmed with a smile and a face filled with genuine love for people.
We spent hours talking. Jim and Joel shared important life lessons. It was Monday and one of those magical moments in time that I wish could have been recorded. I would give almost anything to re-visit that night; to be anonymous, accepted, enlightened and free of pain.
Jim is an incredible man and one of my life mentors. He is married to Susan; an amazing and beautiful woman. They share a wonderful love story.
There are important life tips I have learned, from Jim that should be shared:
Jim accepts people where they are and he works to encourage and build others up to be their best possible selves. It turns out angels can come in the form of former NFL players. Jim has joined our Board of Directors, and continues to encourage and guide. His desire is to give. “To whom much has been given, much is expected.” He lives this motto…and he passes the awesome responsibility on.
Life is not an orderly process – even with the best laid plans…
Life can be unfair but, life is so good!
I had a husband who loved my ideas, spent time with me, intentionally encouraged and loved me every day.
I had an amazing husband,