I was raised in a Christian home and have always believed in God. I was taught from before I could even talk that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and He is my Salvation.
I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was 9 years old. But being the typical kid, I strayed from my teaching as I got older.
I had my first life changing experience at the age of 14 when I was raped. I was devastated! I knew only the basics about sex and the shock and horror when I realized what it was all about and what happened to me almost destroyed me. I became a very angry person. I was angry at God, at the world, at my family, at everything and everyone. I became very rebellious, starting hanging out with the wrong crowd, and even tried to take my own life. All of the built up rage came out and it had to go somewhere.
During this time when I was dealing with the aftermath of being raped, I was also molested by an uncle, as well as one of my brother's scout leaders. This only served to fuel the fire of hurt, hatred and anger as well as the questions as to why this was happening to me.
I went to counseling for several months to work through the trauma that I had been through. When I was 17, I met the man of my dreams, Al. Within a month of meeting we were dating exclusively, and a little over a year later we were married.
Al and I had a blissful life for the first 3 years of our marriage. But Al had not had an easy life either. In fact, his childhood and teenage years had been MUCH worse than mine! Al came from a home where his father is an alcoholic and was abusive to Al and his mom. I remember one time asking Al if he had any happy memories from childhood, and he told me only a few. For the most part, his memories were of abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father as well as seeing his mom being abused by his dad. One of Al's worst memories was of Christmas when he was just 9 years old. His dad had beaten his mom so bad that she had a concussion, and Al had to nurse his mom on Christmas morning. For much of his younger years, Al REALLY thought his name was "S---head", as this is what his dad called him. In fact, he got in trouble one time in school for writing that as his name. Al wasn't being a smartalec or cute, he simply thought this was his name. As he got older he became accustomed to his father's "joke" that is real name wasn't Al, it was "Dammit Al".
Al had a lot of inner turmoil as a child, into his teenage years, and this turmoil carried over into his adulthood. When I met Al we were both young and restless and walking a bit on the wild side of life. Al had also gone to church and believed in Jesus Christ, and he had also accepted Jesus as his Savior when he was just 9 years old (I wouldn't find out this last fact, of his age, until his death).
Al told me that many times he had set on the side of his bed with a gun in his mouth, just wanting all the pain to be gone. He was tired of the fighting and abuse. He was tired of the rejection in society because of his dad...most everyone knew of the police being called to his house, therefore it was not a secret.
Al and I had a bond like I have never had with anyone else. I know in my heart that Al is my soul mate. I have never loved anyone like I love him, and I thank God for giving me the beautiful gift of Al and his love.
Over the years Al and I separated a few times. After the first 3 years of marital bliss, reality set in. Things weren't running as smooth as they did in the beginning. We had gone to church quite a bit when we were dating, and right after we got married, even though we were sewing our wild oats. But we both got "lazy" and decided church wasn't as important as it once had been. We never denied Jesus or said we didn't love Him, we simply made other things more important in our lives. Our priorities got shifted in the wrong direction.
Our last separation was between our 6th and 7th anniversary. We were separated for 6 1/2 months, and then we got back together. I told Al that if it didn't work this time, there wouldn't be anymore separations. My heart couldn't take the back and forth. Our separations had been a combination of both of us. I will not lay the blame completely on Al. The first time I know was my fault. I opened the door to some things that should never have had a place in our marriage. He followed, and it grew, and grew, and grew until it was completely out of control.
When we got back together the last time, I had started going back to church, and LOVED the church I was going to. I invited Al, and at first he was hesitant. But he went, and he loved the church as well. One of Al's biggest things in life was music, and the music at this church is AWESOME! It is mainly praise and worship, not hymns. Al loved the upbeat pace of things. I didn't have to coax him or beg him to go to church with me, he always went willing ling. We didn't go every Sunday, because oftentimes we thought we were too tired and slept in. Once again, priorities weren't where they should have been with us.
In January of 2001, Al got laid off from his job. He was in the first big wave of layoffs in the computer and technology field.
Al had always struggled with depression and low self-esteem. Being laid off (actually, this was second layoff in 6 months) didn't help at all. He began having trouble sleeping. From February until April 28, when Al died, he only had 2 or 3 decent nights of sleep. I asked him why he couldn't sleep, and he said he just had so much on his mind. I asked him what things, and he said just everything. I never could get him to pin down exactly "what things".
I now wonder if he was not having nightmares about his childhood. He never really spoke about his childhood much anymore, but in the last few months it became a topic of discussion between us and other family members and friends several times. Now I wonder if he didn't realize other things that had happened to him...things he may have had buried so deeply that he didn't even remember them. I don't know all of this for a fact, I just know from the last few months of his life he changed.
On April 28, 20001 my life changed forever. Al had gone out with a friend, and when he came home, my whole body went on alert. I knew something just wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly, but something wasn't right.
We headed out to dinner and on the way to the restaurant Al started driving erratically. I asked him to slow down, as he was scaring me. He suddenly turned into a jerk. He wasn't the man I knew.
When we sat down to dinner Al's attitude towards me only got worse. I ended up leaving the restaurant and walked home.
When Al came in, he was furious with me. He jumped on top of me and starting physically attacking me. I was so surprised! Al had NEVER hit me in the 10 years we had been together and he had always told me he would never hit me. He had seen what that did to families and he would have no part of it. He hated to hear the "excuse" of "I was abused so that is all I know." He promised himself he would never fall back on that excuse. He had told me several times that if he ever hit me he would kill himself. But it never worried me, because I knew he wouldn't hit me. I had never been scared of Al..until that night of April 27, 2001 and early morning hours of April 28, 2001.
I finally got away from him, crying. I told him if he hated me that bad, I would leave and he would never have to see me again. I begged him not to hurt me anymore. I turned around and walked away, picking up my purse and keys to leave. I had called my parents to come get me. This had hurt him so bad. He loved and respected my parents so much, and knowing that they knew he had hurt me killed his soul.
When I turned around, I saw him sitting up on the side of the bed with a gun in his hand. In horror, I threw my purse and keys and ran to him screaming. But I was too late. He had raised the gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger. I saw the gun fall to the floor, and Al's head fall back onto the bed.
My life will never be the same again...NEVER! April 28, 2001, I lost my love, my life, my soul mate, Al Kaderli.
Since Al killed himself, the many questions and torments filled my mind and heart. The traumas I saw, the nightmare I endured that night/morning, with the police, the heartache, the never ending questions...
Now I will jump forward and tell you of my personal experience the day of Al's funeral, right after the graveside service. I know God is real, not that I ever doubted that fact, but God is so GOD, that it is almost too much for me to handle.
My first and main concern, above all else, was Al's soul. Since he took his own life, it bothered me that he might be lost forever. My parents had been reassuring me since it first happened, telling me that God was a just and merciful God, and with all that Al had been through in his childhood, that God knew Al's heart, and what he had been through, and would judge him accordingly.
His childhood memories were a struggle for him up until the very last moment of his life, though there were some bright spots along the way. I know in my heart that I helped him see some happiness, though I will never claim I was the perfect wife. For I am human too. But Al was truly my angel from above, and he told me that I changed his life.... but he also changed mine... very much for the better!
In the beginning of this nightmare, I couldn't imagine why he did it. Now, since I have had time for soul searching, I do at least know WHY he killed himself now. He swore to me that he would never hurt me, if he did, he said, he would kill himself. I never took him seriously, but he did. He vowed to me, and his mom even heard him say it many times, that if he ever hit me, someone better kill him, meaning my dad or my brother, and if they didn't, he would kill himself. He said he never wanted to turn out like his dad. That night was the first time EVER that Al hit me, and he kept his promise. I have no idea why he hit me. He had never reacted that way. NEVER!
As I said, my parents had been reassuring me since that very first morning, saying they honestly believed Al is in heaven, even though he took his own life. I hoped above all hope, but there was still that bothersome, "What If's" I was still so tormented that Al's soul was lost forever... that is always what I had been taught, and even when I was younger, and going through some rough times, my mom's pastor told me that was murder and that I would go to hell if I killed myself. So you can imagine how this tormented me. The thought of Al going to hell for this was excruciating to me! No one wants to think about their loved one being lost forever, but I knew Al's heart. In the last year and a half, he had been given a true burden from God for the homeless, and he is such a good man, even though he had his faults (we all do!)! He had really tried in his life, to make it better, to get past all the negative in his life. But it was a very hard struggle for him, up until the very day he died. I prayed that God would have mercy on his soul, even though he had killed himself. Al was closer in the last 2 years of his life to God than he has ever been before, but it wasn't a "perfect Christian life". God had burdened Al's heart to feed the homeless. I'll never forget the night he came home, crying about it, telling me he felt like God had a mission for him. But the torment came from me knowing he wasn't the "ideal, perfect Christian." I know that doesn't exist, that no one is perfect, but as I said, I have been taught that if you kill yourself...... And yet, my parents were telling me they believe he is in heaven.
The preacher that preached Al's funeral, Bro. Leland Crawford, was his Youth Pastor, and he is also the preacher that married us. In his speaking, he told the date that Al publicly went down and gave his life to Christ and was saved, December 2, 1982. That helped me a LOT. But there was still that human side of me saying, "But.."
After the graveside service, we stopped by my Aunt and Uncle's house, who live about 2 minutes from the graveyard. We were talking about the funeral, Al, and how beautiful the service and the day itself was. My Uncle told me that he walked outside that morning, to leave, and smelled flowers so vividly. He said in the many years that he had lived there, he had never smelled flowers so strong. My brother chimed in that he had smelled them too. My Aunt commented that she too had smelled them, and it smelled of honeysuckle. I was telling them that at the graveside, right after we had arrived, there was a butterfly that was flitting around. I was excited, because Al and I loved butterflies. There is an interesting story concerning butterflies for me and Al.
When Al and I still lived in Louisiana, one Saturday he was working on his car, and I was working in the flower bed. He stopped, and was grinning at me. I asked him what he found so amusing, and he said there was a butterfly that was playing with me. It would fly around, land on my head, then my shoulder, fly off, only to come back again. This lasted for several hours, as I worked in the flowerbed. It even let Al and I "pet" it, as it showed its wingspan off elegantly.
That evening, when I went in, I didn't think much about it, until Al went outside and found the butterfly on the front step, dead. He commented that the butterfly loved playing with me so much, that it died simply waiting for me to come out and play again. He brought the butterfly in, and I placed it in an arrangement. I had that butterfly for years, but in moving, the butterfly was so fragile, that it eventually disintegrated. There were many other instances of butterflies playing with me in this manner, though none as much as this very first one. I never have really collected butterflies, though I have always thought they were beautiful. Instead of me choosing them, they seemed to have chose me.
As I left and headed home on the motorcycle with my brother the day of the funeral, as soon as we stepped outside, I smelled honeysuckle so strong! When there were times that I did not smell the honeysuckle, I would pray to God that I needed the reassurance, and immediately I would smell honeysuckle again. As the miles went by, I talked to God, and told Him how I had so many questions, so many frustrations, and had this unsettling in my heart about Al's soul, even though you had the date that he was saved. I asked God for a physical sign that Al was in heaven. I did not tell anyone, not my mom and dad, nor my brother, whom I was with, about this request of mine to God. I don't believe I even vividly asked God for the butterfly, it was more of a fleeting thought, on exactly what I wanted, but I was very vivid in the thought that I did need a physical sign. But that fleeting, passing though it was to God, was that I wanted a butterfly as my physical sign from God that Al was safe in heaven with Him.
When we got to my mom's house, my mom's church had brought food for the family. They were clearing off the table, and another of my uncle's made the comment that he would just eat outside, as it was such a lovely day. We all agreed on this, and this just fit, because Al wanted to eat outside anytime it was possible. In fact, he would choose a restaurant strictly if they had outside dining, versus one he might like the food better, if they didn't have outside dining.
As I finished my meal, I got up to take my plate in, and Al's little sister Christy put something on the table in front of me. My mouth flew open in disbelief, and my eyes were round with astonishment as I asked, "Where did you get this?!" She gave me such a bewildered look, that I had to repeat the question to her. She said she had found it on the ground, and thought I might like to have it. It was a dead butterfly, with a broken wing.
I explained to my family about my request, and they all were as astonished as I was. Some may see this as simple coincidence, but I have no doubt that this was my sign from God that Al is in heaven. Even though I did not express in exact words to God that this is what I wanted as my sign, He knew every thought that I was having. I got my sign from God.
Christie, Al's sister, was so excited. She was happy that God had used her to give me my sign. The two most important ladies in his life had their sign from God. She told me that she had never picked up a butterfly before, and wondered why she had that day. I told her not to wonder, it was God directing her. The next day, as she was heading home, she told me later that she prayed to God, and told Him she was happy to know her brother was in heaven, and thankful that she had been used by Him, but she wanted her own personal sign from Him, as He had sent to me. Just minutes later, a butterfly flew passed her windshield. We have conformation that he is in heaven. Now, I see butterflies EVERYWHERE! I live in one of the busiest cities in the world, and I see butterflies in traffic! You just don't see butterflies in traffic, even in the spring time. But I have been every day since God gave me this sign.
One morning in particular, I had not seen my butterfly, and was feeling discouraged. I was on my way to work, and praying fervently for my sign from heaven. Suddenly, I looked up, and in the car in front of me, hanging around the rear view mirror, was a butterfly. I have never seen a butterfly around a rear view mirror! Again, some may say coincidence, but I know differently. I say God.
I won't tell you I am not hurting. Al was the sunshine of my days and my moonlight in the darkness. He was my one and only true love. He has been my whole adult life, and losing him has been the hardest thing I have ever faced in all my life. I want so bad just to hold him one more time, to kiss his beautiful face. But knowing that he is finally at peace (I have not seen him so peaceful, as he was at his funeral, since the day I met him.) and not hurting any more, makes it easier. I know I will make it, though it will not be easy. But I pray for Jesus' return EVERY DAY, because nothing else in this world would make me happier. I know I have a purpose in life, and I don't want Al's life to be without purpose.
This sign from God, His love, help and strength is all that is getting me through right now. This is literally the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my life. I feel like someone has ripped my heart out. It isn't just an emotional hurt, it is an actual physical ache.
Al had a huge burden for the homeless, and we are going to carry on for him. Al deserves to live forever, in our hearts and memories. In this way, we also can spread the gospel, and win souls to Christ. So that is my work ahead of me.
So now, when you see a butterfly, don't be surprised if it is a......... BUTTERFLY FROM HEAVEN.
I now have a closer relationship with God than I have EVER had before. This ministry was formed so smoothly, and without a clear goal, that I KNOW God was leading us. NONE of us ever had the intention of doing this full time, but God has His purpose for every person. We are now just following God. My walk with the Lord is so secure now. I have researched the Bible on Salvation and suicide, and have a section on the website about that (it is under the LETTERS link).
God is so wonderful! I now realize that salvation means you are "Perfect". "Perfect" is not reality. God knew we were sinners, saved by grace, and GRACE ALONE!
I am so thankful to my Lord Jesus Christ for dying on the cross for my salvation. I can't imagine what life would be like without Him.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my testimony with you. I know it is very lengthy, and if you need to shorten it, I completely understand.
Waiting to meet my Lord Jesus,