On June 3, 2005, my husband Matthew Lyon was killed on his motorcycle by a young woman who pulled suddenly into his lane from a side road. He was on his way to Oregon Episcopal School, where he taught art and spiritual/philosophical courses. Matthew and I had been married 21 years.
I was in my office, waiting for a client, when the doorbell rang. I went into the waiting room and was elementally shocked to see two policemen. These officers, who had come with terrible news, turned out to be angels in uniform. Their caring presence was the first of many miracles that carried me through the memorial service a week later.
One of the miracles started badly about two weeks after Matthew's death. I was lying on the floor, trying to breathe normally in a world where everything was different, wondering how I could keep going.
The phone rang. It was Shambala Mountain Center calling for Matthew Lyon, who still owed money for an upcoming meditation retreat. I hadn’t known about it, and I stumbled verbally, very confused. Finally, I blurted, “He’s been killed!” There was silence, and then the person on the line asked, “Are you Thomasa?” I said, “No, why?” The person said, “They were coming together.”
At that moment, I felt that God had completely deserted me. I sobbed for what seemed an eternity, and then asked for her phone number, which they gave me. It was a Seattle number.
I lay back down on the floor, trying again to breathe. I felt like cursing God. I cried out, “Why are you breaking my heart?” There was no answer.
Later, I called the number and reached a recording: “Please leave a message for Thomasa or Matthew Lyon.” When the message finished, a woman said, “Hello, this is Thomasa.” I couldn’t speak, and she asked, “Are you there?” She waited, and finally, I poured out the story. After a moment, she said, “You’ve called the right place.” She assured me that her husband, Matthew Lyon, was not my Matthew Lyon, and then told me that she had lost her first husband after 20 years of marriage. I was amazed to be talking to this stranger who understood my grief. She said, “I’d like to meet you.” I was planning to be in Seattle the next week to visit a friend, so we made arrangements.
On Sunday afternoon when I arrived at her house, I was expectant and nervous. Thomasa greeted me with a very tender hug. After we sat down, she looked at me closely and asked, “Do you have a brother named Burman who sang in the Roger Wagner Chorale?” I felt my heart burst open. “Yes!” She said, “He and I were good friends in college. We were both soloists in the Chorale.”
At that moment, Thomasa and I began to realize the sacredness of this experience; the miracle of God’s mercy. We talked for several hours. I told her about Matthew, and she told me about her first husband and his death from cancer.
On the way home, I felt my heart open. I said, “Thank you God, for being so clear that I’m still welcome here.”