Another April 19th was drawing to a close. Like all the others since my husband Ray’s sudden death in 1997, it had been a day of remembrance, tinged with sorrow and joy. Each year those seemingly contradictory emotions mingle together as I grieve the loss of a godly, gone-too-soon partner and father, yet rejoice in the assurance I’ll see him again.
My adult daughters and I often text in the evenings, checking in with each other, comparing notes on the day’s activities. As bedtime approached the night of the 19th, Jessie texted, “Check out Sports Center. I think I might be on a Kiss Cam clip from the Hawks game.” Mary and I texted back excitedly that we’d be sure to watch. It was close to midnight so I set my DVR and went to bed. When I checked my phone the next morning, the flurry of texting between the sisters had continued as the video quickly went viral on the internet. Jessie, dubbed “Pizza Girl” by her newly-adoring fans, became an overnight sensation with Twitter posts proclaiming her a “national treasure” and “the hero we need now”. Her Facebook page nearly crashed as friends, including many from grade school and college, posted comments and congratulations. By the end of the week, the clip had appeared on The Today Show, had been picked up by countless internet news and entertainment sites, and had received nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
By now you may be thinking something along the lines of, “I don’t need to read a mother’s blog post wherein she brags about her daughter becoming an internet phenomenon.” But please keep reading. You see, Jessie isn’t really the main protagonist . . . her loving Heavenly Father is . . .
Two weeks before the Kiss Cam video appeared, Jessie and I met for lunch at Panera. When we sat down to eat, Jessie happily proclaimed, “I had two free items on my card, Mom. I needed a win today!” Little did we know, that was just a warm up.
God knows how to give good gifts to his children, ones that are tailor-made for them. Furthermore, his timing is perfect. April 19th will always be a hard day for our family as we mourn our loss and wonder what life might have been like had Ray been with us across all the years he’s been gone. Now, however, there’s a footnote to that day – “Pizza Girl” was introduced to the world and the fun and delight her antics brought to so many will be forever tied to April 19th.
But wait, there’s more. Jessie’s sense of humor has been evident since her earliest days. Her comedic timing is enviable as she entertains family, friends and community theater audiences. And where did her sense of humor come from? Her dad. I can still see them stretched out together on Saturday mornings, watching cartoons and laughing. Yes, I like to think Ray was chuckling right along with everyone else as Jessie devoured those pizza slices, completely overshadowing the couple smooching in front of her.
From something as small as two free Panera items to things as over-the-top as instant internet fame, we can count on our Father to reach out to us with gifts so personal and well-timed they leave no doubt He knows us intimately. May we have eyes that perceive those gifts, hearts that embrace the Giver and lips that sing his praise as we tell others of his amazing love.