Friday, August 26, 2011

Standing In The Driveway Waving Good-Bye

I have left.  And I have been left.  Leaving is usually easier.

When we're the ones doing the leaving the journey lies before us.  There is often a sense of expectation, excitement.  Maybe a little anxiety.  But our attention is fixed on our destination.  When we're the ones being left there's little we can do.  In those instances where I've been left I find myself standing in the driveway, watching until the car is out of sight and then reluctantly returning to a house that suddenly seems too empty, too quiet.

Sometime in late 1995 or early 1996 I was sitting in my office at a radio station in Louisville, Kentucky.  I got a phone call from a woman who introduced herself as the new morning show host at a cross town radio station.  She told me she was a Christian, was originally from Louisville and had just recently moved back from Shreveport, Louisiana where she had been honored with a Country Music Association Disc Jockey of the Year Award.  She wanted to know if I could get her tickets to an upcoming Carman concert, and maybe get her backstage to meet the singer.  That was my introduction to Sheila Richards.

A few months later I was working with her, doing the morning show at that mainstream station across town.  When I came to Atlanta to be program director and do the morning show at J93.3 Sheila was my first choice as a co-host.  By then she had moved back to Shreveport to her old radio station.  It took a little convincing and a few phone conversations with a local pastor who told her to think about where she could have the biggest impact for the Kingdom of God.  Sheila liked that idea and accepted the job here.

Sheila loved lighthouses.  For her they were a reminder to "Let Your Light Shine."

When you start your day with someone as many times as I did with Sheila, you get to know that person pretty well.  She was never afraid to ask for anything.  As her faith grew over the years she asked less often for herself and more often for others.  If there was a listener in need, a family going through a tough time, a single mom who needed a break, Sheila would ask on their behalf.

Looking back it's hard to believe that it's been some 16 years since that first phone call I had with Sheila. And now here we are, all of us who love her, who listened to her, standing in the driveway, watching as she gets ready to roll out of sight.  When she does, this old world is going to seem a little too empty, too quiet.  But we know her destination, and our hope and comfort comes in the knowing that one day we'll be there with her.

Keep Jimmy and the rest of her family in your prayers in the coming days.  Our hope is sure and real.  But sometimes that quiet can be almost more than we're able to bear.