At 19 years old, she embarked in a new journey in life with longtime college sweetheart and best friend. Thirty-eight years later, she finds herself alone; heartbroken, mourning and hurt at the sudden death of her husband.
This is what inspired Tyler author Melinda Richarz Lyons to write Little Gifts of Comfort, a short story, which has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and Divine Intervention.
Little Gifts of Comfort is a non-fiction short story on Lyon’s life after losing her husband. After he died, she noticed little coincidences that she believed were messages from heaven.
“Other people might think it’s silly, but when you’ve lost somebody, and everybody has, a lot of times you look for those things that you feel are signs from them, like ‘Hey I’m okay and you’re okay,’ so that’s what the story’s about, about some things that happened that made me feel okay after he passed away,” Lyons said.
The first coincidence Lyons wrote in the short story was about a day she was commuting to work. As she sobbed about the loss of her husband, a car pulled out in front of her with a license plate number which began with SBJ, which were the initials of her late husband.
“I was crying in the car and I was angry, too. I was having thoughts like, ‘How could you leave me? We had a future together. We were supposed to grow old together,’ so I was just really upset,” Lyons recounted.
It was a feeling of comfort that the small coincidence gave her, as she understood that her husband was okay and that she would be, too.
“It was a coincidence, yes, but to me it was more than that,” she wrote in the short story.
She explained that she took it as her late husband saying she was going to be okay, although she was feeling terrible, she was going to be okay.
“It comforted me in a very dark time. Crying my eyes out and I’m at a real low point thinking my life is over, and then that car pulls out in front of me, I don’t know, it was a little glimmer of hope,” Lyons said.
Apart from being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and Divine Intervention, Lyons has also been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love.
In Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love, she writes about finding love again after losing her first husband. In Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers, she writes about her husband’s grandchildren and how a child accepts her as her grandma.
“He was like, ‘I know who you are. You’re extra grandma!’ I just thought that was so precious the way he decided he already had two grandmas so I was extra,” she said.
The next strange coincidence Lyons writes about in Miracles and Divine Intervention, is a story about meeting a friend who was about her age. Months after her husband’s death, the women began having lunch together after learning they were both newly single and the same age. A friendship began to blossom.
“We had gotten to know each other through a neighbor. I didn’t put two and two together until we were talking one night. We were just getting to know each other and just enjoying each other’s company. But when we realized it, we were both just flabbergasted because that’s not a small town,” Lyons said.
Her new friend whom she had just started having lunch with, was the mother of the emergency room doctor who had tried to save her husband’s life the night he died.
“It was really a coincidence that he was the doctor and he was so kind that day. That person was put in my path for a reason. She was put in my path for a reason,” Lyons said.
Before the death of her husband, Lyons had a full-time job and worked as a freelance journalist. After she retired and her husband passed, she found herself with more time to do what she had always wanted to do, write.
“When you work full time, by the time you get home or on the weekends, you’re just too tired to tackle your own projects, so combined with my retirement and his death, I had more time to sit down and write,” she said.
Apart from being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Lyons has also written her own books, including Crossing The Minefield, Murder at the Oaklands Mansion, Heir to a Secret and The Seventeen Dollar Murders. Lyons also has had several articles published in magazines.
Recently, Lyons has had more small coincidences that she believes are messages from her guardian angel, her late husband Sid. After contracting COVID in November, Lyons had to be admitted to the hospital.
“You’re in this room where you can’t see outside, there’s nothing but noisy machines and flashing lights, and these days healthcare workers look like spacemen, they’re all suited up. It’s super impersonal. Even though they’re wonderful to you, you can’t be near anybody,” she said.
At a time while she was in her hospital room, she thought she wasn’t going to make it.
“I just felt this warm presence around me. All of a sudden, I felt surrounded by love. To me it was a little miracle because I feel like it was my husband saying, ‘Yes you are. You’re going to be okay, hang in there.’ ”
That’s when she knew she was going to be okay. Since then, Lyons has recovered and is working on a second part of two of her book series.