There are some details I don’t think I’ll ever forget from the timeline of the year we lost Doug. Hospital stays and emergency room visits don’t fade. The whole year is like a milestone. Wonderful, special friends and family walked with us, came alongside us, offered shoulders to lean on, and helped us maintain stability. Many helped us financially, giving more than we thought possible. As you can imagine, just as trauma and grief don’t suddenly stop, our financial problems didn’t either. This little story may be dry and a bit slow to start with a bunch of timeline facts, but hang in there. The awesome God stuff is coming.
During the year that Doug had cancer, we were supported by a couple VA programs that helped with rent and utilities for part of the time, by Evan, Quinn, and Aleina giving almost everything from their jobs, and by our family and friends giving finances, groceries, dinners, rides to and from Rochester, trips to Costco (Sam’s Club?), and so much more. The basics of life were covered. We survived. We had a home, food, and electricity. Without the love and generosity of friends and family, I honestly don’t know what would have happened to us. Every month I would tell Doug that all the pertinent bills got paid, he would cry and thank God. Our gratitude was overflowing. There are too many people to list, and uncountable kind acts and words.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say we lost both cars. I’ve been without my own car for two years. A good friend gave Quinn her car. It needed some work, but it has limped along and been the stop-gap we needed. It was an act of kindness and another answer to prayer. Another friend let us borrow a couple cars until he got them sold. Then, Aleina used a big chunk of her savings to buy two older cars that we hoped would help us at least get to work and back. Together they were less than $1,500. Well, we don’t know cars or what we were doing (Doug always bought and maintained our vehicles,) and the people weren’t honest about the condition of these cars. One broke down before we owned it a month. Our close friends, the Dammeier’s helped us get it towed away.
We had spent as much as we could, and still didn’t have safe or reliable transportation. Luckily, Aleina works within walking distance, and the boys work within a few miles of home. I’m the only one who has to drive on freeways, and I work half an hour away. Joel Dammeier, who’s like a brother to all my kids, gave us his old car that he was going to sell. It was a lifesaver. Not especially safe or reliable, but better than what we were using. We had three limping cars for about nine months; and then, our most reliable car’s brakes gave out with a sudden swoosh of the brake pedal and a puddle underneath; luckily it was in our driveway! Then, we could finally breathe a little when Aleina bought herself a good, safe, reliable car. (She is really good at saving!) She let me use it for work, but I felt guilty every day taking her new car from her. All of that happened in less than two years.
Now here’s the part of the story I’ve really been wanting to get to. Jeremy and Stephanie are long time friends. They were in the youth group when Doug and I were involved in youth ministry. A while ago, God told them to set aside money that they had been using for something else each month; just set it aside until he told them what to do with it. After some time, he told them the reason they were saving it up was to buy a car for me. Stephanie called me and said, “We’re going to buy you a car.” I mean, who says that? Who does stuff like that? Jeremy and Stephanie, that’s who! That’s just the beginning! They had shopped around a bit and looked into some options that didn’t work out, when a friend of Stephanie’s said she had this little 2008 HHR that she got for her bakery business, but was selling it because it was too small. It ran well, was very safe and reliable, and the miles weren’t bad for its age. We went out to look at it. It had some issues, one being that the back doors wouldn’t open from the outside. We all felt we should pass on it and keep looking.
Stephanie let her friend know that we weren’t going to buy it and told her about the doors. (She didn’t know because she used the hatch and hadn’t tried the doors.) Then, about half an hour later, the friend texts back and says that if I still want it, she’ll sell it to them for about a third of her original asking price! Even in its condition it was worth a lot more than that. They bought it and had more than enough left over to get the issues dealt with. We’ll get the doors taken care of soon, but it’s been detailed and had a couple issues fixed. I LOVE my car! It is so cute, and I feel like a super awesome, slightly sassy, reasonably responsible person when I’m in it. I actually feel younger driving around! The AC and heat work great, which is really important in Minnesota. I just can’t fully express how grateful and happy I am for this car. I’m blessed; very blessed. Not just blessed because I have a new car, but because I have amazing friends who listen to God, and care for me and stand by me as I figure this new life out.
God has once again shown up in a big way. He is a kind and loving Father. Stephanie and Jeremy, the Dammeier’s, and others who have walked alongside us and helped us financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually have all shown the kindness of God to us. These are the new details and the new milestones I will remember forever.