Inez the Mexican, God-lover and Jesus-follower, stands before me. Red plaid shirt, graying hair, beard. A burly man, with gentle mannerisms and eyes like dark pools. We have not met before, but those eyes tell me something: this man has a story.
I want to hear it. Even more, I feel I’ll want to tell it.
We have a common acquaintance, Inez and I. A man named Doug. Almost every time we meet, Doug brings me a story, and sometimes the people they belong to. True stories. Hard stories. Sad, sad, happy. Happy sad, sad. Like life. This one spins out long. Moisture gathers in the big man’s eyes as he tells it.
Inez and Veronica own a nursery business in Mexico. It makes a little; but not enough. To supplement their income, Inez works as a long haul trucker. They have four children, or did until a few years ago.
“God told us,” Inez says. “He told us our son would die two weeks before he did.” On that day Adrian, three-and-a-half years old, the youngest, attended a funeral with his family. At the cemetery, he asked an unusual question. “Mama, do they only bury adults here?”
Shocked, she responded, “No, children are buried here too.”
“Good,” he said. “Because I’m going to be here soon.”
I wait for the main character to enter the story. God. He always has a part in the stories Doug brings me. I don’t have to wait long.
In the next weeks, little Adrian often climbed onto his mother’s knee. “Hug me, Mama,” he whispered each time. “I will not be long with you. “
We’re on holy ground now. The hurt, the heart, the humanity, and yes, the hope bleeds through his words. One by one, Inez continues to list God’s gentle nudges; the things he used to prepare Adrian’s family for the ending of his short life on earth.
“I recognized the premonitions,” he told me. He begged. Prayed. Agonized. Pled with God, “Please, do not take away my son.” But when the end came, in the form of a horrific vehicle accident, Inez looked back and realized that the Holy Spirit, in love, had repeatedly assured them that God would take care of their beloved Adrian from that point on.
After the accident, Inez, who had not been nearby at the time, had the difficult task of shopping for clothes in which to bury his son. With heavy heart, he selected a checkered shirt and pants.
After the family re-united, his eleven-year-old daughter showed him her latest artwork, inspired by the reassuring words of Psalm 23, which she had copied beside the picture. “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
“Jesus watches over us when we rest,” she had titled it. The picture showed her beloved brother, sleeping. Flowers and loveliness surrounded him. A blanket covered him. A checkered blanket, very like the fabric in the shirt his Papa bought.
But she had drawn the picture days before her brother died.
God knows. God cares. Adrian is safe, and Inez has peace.