Those who have said goodbye to life on earth with your partner know the hundreds of little “firsts” that you encounter during your day. It has been 4 and a half months since Daniel went to heaven, so I cannot speak of the experience beyond that.
So many things that I never imagined were happening to me. Some are minors; some are tough, and some are downright grueling. I’ll never forget that first magazine that came with Daniel’s name on it, but they’re not Daniel to read it. In my heart, I knew he had much better things. Yet it still hurts whenever I get rid of Busy Beaver magazines (an Amish/Mennonite newspaper) and haven’t seen Daniel sit down and leaf through it, noticing how people do all kinds of things to earn money.
Daniel’s birthday arrives on Sunday. We will miss not making his apricot pie and seeing him eat it with homemade vanilla ice cream. The last time I made it for him, Julia asked me why he was so quiet while eating it. Smiling, I told him, “He’s having too much fun to talk. His smile proved that my answer was correct.
With the start of the school year, the men of our church go three mornings a week to do devotions with the teachers and the children. I loved going with Daniel as I soaked up the thrill of watching him teach those innocent little hearts about Jesus. Now what? I have no answers. Yes, I can go with other couples to church, but nothing will ever compare to my Daniel. I know God will bring more remarkable blessings than heartache, even though I can’t wrap my aching brain around it right now.
Shopping was a whole new dimension for me. The last time Daniel went shopping, he came home laden with armfuls of groceries. Besides the necessities I had jotted down on a list for him, he had bought me several cans of orange juice, a range of fruit, special snacks and the list goes on. I blinked in amazement and received it as a gift of love for all of us.
Now, as I make a list to go shopping on my own, I write down only what I need; Daniel is no longer there to be my breadwinner. I know I shouldn’t be too stingy, there’s never a real shortage of money, but my mind kept going. I pray and talk to God about it.
A few weeks ago, I was heading to Walmart with the four youngest. Entering the entrance, we moved to the special carts for shopping with the children. As Joshua slept he was restrained in the car seat in the main section of the carriage, Hosanna was delighted to sit in the front and the two four-year-old boys sat side by side in the double seat. My mother’s heart overflowed.
We walked up and down the aisles. As always, the kids spied endless ideas for items to buy. Meanwhile, my mind kept going to several people I was inspired to buy gifts for. God had removed the heaviness from my heart regarding the use of money, so with a sense of relief, I chose what I thought were good gifts. The kids were impressed to be there to buy stuff for others and added their opinions along the way.
An hour and a half later, we headed to the checkout, where I met a non-Amish lady who comes to our autumn widow’s suppers. I approached her and told her of my husband’s death. We had a friendly little chat and were both on our way. As the kids helped me stack our items on the conveyor belt, I began to wonder if I was even wise to come to Walmart in the first place. “If I hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have spent that money,” I thought, but I don’t want to start thinking again.
Shortly after the last item was scanned, the cashier told me she had to come to the other side. I moved my oversized cart to the side as she stepped forward and slipped another card. “That’s strange,” I thought. Coming back, she said, “That lady over there in the blue shirt just paid your bill.
I blinked. Would it be true? (I cry thinking about it now.)
It was the dear widow I had met a few minutes before. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart and asked God to bless her. I said to the cashier, “This is a reminder to me of how God provides. I am learning to live my life as a widow with six small children. In my heart, I knew that God wanted to prove how much he cares for us if only we would trust!
Next time I make a shopping list, I hope I don’t worry for a moment; I am not in charge of our lives, but One greater than me! Now, to celebrate Daniel’s birthday, I want to share with you one of his favorite dishes:
Underground Ham Casserole
4 cups chopped ham
4 tbsp. Butter
1/2 cup onion
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 can of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken
1-2 cups Velveeta cheese (depending on preference)
3/4 cup milk
4 liters of mashed potatoes
2 cups sour cream
Browned and crumbled bacon
Combine ham, butter, onions and Worcestershire sauce and sauté until onions are soft. Place in a baking dish and spread evenly. Heat soups, cheese and milk in a saucepan. Pour over the ham. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add sour cream to mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes over the ham mixture. Sprinkle bacon on top and cook for 20 more minutes. Do not add salt. There is enough sodium in this dish.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish homemaker in rural Illinois. She is the third editor of The Amish Cook since its inception in 1991. Yoder can be reached at: The Amish Cook, PO Box 157, Middletown, Ohio 45042.