When I was in my early teens my family and I stayed overnight with a couple in Huntington, West Virginia, who had four daughters, roughly the ages of the Somerville boys.  I developed a huge crush on one of them, Mary Scott, and when I woke up the next morning in an upstairs room I breathed on the window and traced our initials on the glass with one finger: “J.S. + M.S.K.”  That was as close as I came to professing my love for her.

But a few years later she arrived on the campus of the same college I was attending.  I was a sophomore, she was a freshman, and if anything she was even more beautiful than I remembered.  I knocked on her door one evening and told her the story of how I had written our initials on the window of that upstairs room, hoping that she would say, “Really?  I had a crush on you, too!”  But she didn’t.  She didn’t seem to remember that visit, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t remember me.  She started dating the goalie on the soccer team and I swallowed my disappointment and moved on.

Eventually we got to be friends, so that when I got a letter from her mother last year (who lives near Richmond, heard one of my sermons, and wrote asking if I still remembered her family), I was able to say, “Please tell Mary Scott hello.”  She did, and Mary Scott said “hello” right back. 

Her mother and I have corresponded a couple of times since then, and so I wasn’t surprised to get an envelope yesterday with her return address in the upper left hand corner.  What surprised me was the news inside: Mary Scott had died in a snowboarding accident in Colorado. 

It’s not the first time one of my peers has died, but it’s the first time it’s happened to someone I once had a crush on.  It feels different, somehow.  I think back to those initials on the glass and wonder, “Is that how it is?  Do people’s lives evaporate like those letters did?  Is that the end of Mary Scott?”  But then I remember those lines from Isaiah 49, where God says to his people: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:15-16a).  I picture those initials—“M.S.K.”—written on God’s palm forever, and I breathe a sigh of relief.  Because I know that Mary Scott was also one of God’s people.

And I know that she’s going to be OK.

6 thoughts on “Crushed

  1. I have heard some people compare our lives to the flame of a candle. When we are born the candle is lit and sometimes the flame burns until the candle is used up. These are the people who live to a ripe old age. Then there are those whose flame is extinguished long before the candle is used up. these are the people who we feel died long before their time. I had a brother who died at 54 years of age and I felt that he died much too soon. After the flame has gone out, this is a little bit of smoke given off by the candle and then it is gone. It is sometimes tempting to think that our lives are like that. Once the flame has gone out and the smoke has disipated, that is the end of us. I have wrestled with that possibility a good part of my life and I continue to wrestle with it. Do our lives “evaporate” like the initials you wrote on that window pane? Do our lives evaporate like that little puff of smoke after the candle has gone out? I continue to look for the answer to that question and maybe some day I will be as sure of the answer as you appear to be.

  2. When things like this happen in my life, I am so thankful for the promises in God’s Word. I may never understand these things, but I have put my trust in God and rely on his wisdom. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. While we “see through the glass darkly” I believe that one day – be it sooner or later – God will show us the true picture, even if now we haven’t the faintest notion of what it will be like. Because I’m well past the “expected 3 score & 10 bit”, I have had a number of losses, but those loved ones live on in so many ways in the lives of those whom they loved and whose lives they touched in meaningful ways. No one is indespensable, but there are those whom we miss so much, and who leave vacant spaces for a very long while!

  4. You know Jim, since losing three sisters within the past several years, I have had, and sometimes still have, the same thoughts you had, and I wonder why I had not had those thoughts before, but somehow losing my family seems different. I, like you, have remembered the words of Isa. as well as those in many other scriptures and feel comforted knowing God has prepared a place for us and has plans for our future. And, also knowing that He has promised we will see them once again. I will receive even more comfort during the Lenten season. Praise be to God!

  5. Life is short,but is it really limited to time.our lives are a constant series of events linked together for Our change.she is missed,remembered and our experience of her will go on.the smile the laugh .there is never a goodbye,she will be with us all as we experience our human experience.mary you are rememBered and loved always

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