Luke 18:17: “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
On a Friday morning in June 2005, about 8 a.m., my life changed completely, without warning. Matthew, my husband of 21 years, was an art teacher at Oregon Episcopal School and also a well-known potter and student of spirituality. That morning, he was killed instantly on his way to work by a young woman who pulled out from a blind corner, into the path of his motorcycle.
I had gone to my office to begin my day of appointments. At 9:00, the door in the waiting room opened and I heard someone come in. I went into the waiting room and saw two men in police uniforms. I immediately felt myself go into a survival, instinctual state. One of them asked me if I was Pat Timberlake. I remember wondering if there was any way I could not be Pat Timberlake. I heard myself say “Yes”, nothing more, nothing less. They asked me to sit down and I refused, defiantly. I said, “Just tell me!” They told me Matthew had been killed and they had gotten my work address from OES.
This survival terror continued until they let me be, giving me more physical space and silence. One of them quietly said, “Would you like to call someone?” Unable to think, I asked them to come into my office so I could sit at my desk, and maybe I could think then. I sat down at my desk near my phone, and they sat down in their uniforms on the floor! I immediately relaxed when I saw their humanity. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, their quiet patience allowed me to cry, think who I could call, and make the call. From that moment on, I could bring my quaking soul to an unimaginable future outside of anything I had ever known. I was a beginner, with no map.
Waiting for my friends to come, I found three calls on my voicemail mail from OES telling me they were having a spontaneous memorial service in the Chapel because students and teachers wanted to meet and sit in silence and speak their thoughts and feelings. I went to be with others who were grieving. I was not alone.
Throughout the next week, many beautiful HEARTFULL things happened. Everyone who spoke to me was full of God in their own way. The memorial service was arranged and held in one week. The music was put together by highly trained musicians who came together for the first time. There were 500 people there. It was a miracle. I felt the only thing I could do was show up as fully as possible.
Many miracles emerged from overwhelming disorientation. The week after the Memorial, I was walking down Hawthorne still in shock. Many people were walking past me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman who appeared to be in her 80’s walking across the sidewalk towards me with her hand outstretched. As she approached, she said, “I found this flower on the sidewalk and you look like the kind of person who would enjoy it.” I looked at her and thought, “This is what an angel is!”