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Mysterious Ways: Showered with Love

A brief rainstorm assures a wife that her departed husband is there for her.

A single gray cloud in an otherwise blue sky

What a beautiful night for high school football, I thought. I was in my usual spot in the bleachers where I always watched my grandson Justin’s games. I was definitely a proud grandpa.

The sun was sinking beneath a clear horizon, a perfect backdrop for Senior Night, when the senior varsity squad and their parents would be honored. I searched the throng on the field and spotted Justin and his mom, my daughter Pam.

I lifted my camera to snap a photo. Justin gazed into the distance, as if his thoughts were somewhere else.

I could guess where. Justin’s stepfather, Carney, had died six months before, at age 59. He was Coach Carney to almost everyone. He’d been assistant football coach at the high school for 20 years. He was the one who persuaded Justin to try out for football.

He was a big, powerful man, a former college and semi-pro tight end, with equally powerful convictions and faith. I counted him as both my son-in-law and my friend.

Justin was five when Carney married Pam. A boy has to learn to trust a stepdad. Pam used to tell the story that one night during a thunderstorm Justin ran into their room, shaking with fright. Carney took Justin out to the porch.

“I love the rain,” Carney said. He pointed at a flash of lightning in the distance. “Pretty amazing, right? All this is God’s handiwork. There’s nothing to fear.”

Carney would have been so proud to see Justin tonight, standing tall and confident. As the first players and their families were announced, I came down from the stands to get a better angle.

Justin’s and Pam’s names were called. They began walking to the center of the field. As I lifted my camera, something splashed on the lens. I looked up. There was a small, dark rain cloud suspended above the field. It came out of nowhere. Then it began to pour.

I shoved my camera inside my jacket. Everyone ducked for cover. Except Justin and Pam. They walked with their heads held high. Just as they reached their places, the rain stopped. I looked at the sky again. The cloud was gone.

Pam returned to the bleachers, her eyes red. “I know,” I said. “It doesn’t feel right without Carney here.”

Pam smiled. “Dad, didn’t you see what we saw? He was.”

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