Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. ~Richard Bach
One of the most difficult questions in life is why bad things happen to good people. Let’s face it; the world is full of pain and suffering. And when things go wrong, the first question many ask is why, God? Why? I found myself asking this very same question over and over again recently when my wonderful friend Ray suffered a stroke.
A faith healer from Jersey City, New Jersey, Ray Skop dedicated his life to unselfishly helping others. His phone was always ringing with people who needed his help and he never refused anyone. I am proud to have had the privilege of knowing him and calling him my friend.
He suffered a stroke Monday, June 18 and though I was both stunned and saddened by the news, I held on to hope that he would recover. The following day at about 2:45 a.m., I went to bed and said a prayer for Ray. Afterwards, immediately upon closing my eyes, I saw a vision of him. He looked so happy and was waving hello to me repeatedly saying, “Hi, Josie! Hi, Josie!” He was smiling and looked much younger and thinner wearing what looked like a denim jacket. He also looked like he was surrounded by beautiful trees and grass.
To be honest, I was afraid of what I saw for two reasons. For one, I was completely awake and second, I knew if this really was my friend, he had crossed over. I opened my eyes quickly and then noticed that there was a chill near the right side of my face. I touched the left side of my face and it felt warm, yet I could feel a chill on the right side.
When the spirit of loved ones is around, we will often feel a cold sensation. Spirits often use up some of the energy in the room which causes cold spots. Knowing this, I intuitively knew that my friend was present that night.
Thinking of Ray, I closed my eyes for a second time and again saw him smiling at me. I quickly opened my eyes again wondering if he was stopping by to say goodbye to me. I then closed my eyes for a third time but this time, I did not see Ray and the chill was no longer there. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I was worried about my friend but eventually fell asleep. The next morning, I feared that I was going to get a phone call telling me that Ray had passed.
Although, thankfully, I did not get that phone call, I was told that he was in critical condition. This was all so heartbreaking. Ray was at the helm of many incredible miracles and divine interventions. As I said, he dedicated his life to helping others.
Ray never regained consciousness and passed yesterday, July 3rd. Although I am deeply saddened because I will miss his physical presence, I am happy for him because I know he is now happy. I guess you can say I am happy for him but sad for me. I had only just met Ray in December 2011 yet we shared a connection I cannot explain. I’ll never forget one of the conversations I had with Ray when he said, “Josie, I want us to be good friends.” I smiled back at him feeling honored by his words and said, “Me, too, Ray.” I just never thought our friendship would be so short-lived. In my mind, we had forever but forever was not to be.
Yes, our friendship will continue as I know Ray will always be there for me in spirit. But, still, I find myself wishing we had more time. I wish I had made more of an effort to go to Jersey City to spend time with him. I wish I had called him more often. The list goes on. Sadly, most of us don’t think of these things until our loved ones are no longer with us. It’s a hard way to learn that we should never take anything in life for granted. If you love someone, say it. If you care, show it. Let your friends know how much they are appreciated. You may never get the chance tomorrow for all you are guaranteed is right now.
So why do bad things happen to good people? Why did God take such a beautiful man who was needed so much and who made a difference in the lives of countless others, including my own? I don’t know why. But what I do know is there is a reason for everything. Nothing happens without purpose.
I also know that God, Supreme Being or whatever you choose to call Him is all loving and infinite. The book of Job tells the story of how Job, a very wealthy man, lost everything. Although Job is understandably upset and questions why such bad things happened to him, he never loses his faith. Job knows that God is good and therefore continues to trust in Him. This story is a lesson for us all. When bad things happen, we need to hold on to that faith and trust.
Truthfully, I don’t understand why Ray had to leave us. But I also know that some things are not meant for us to understand.
I once read a story about a 25-year old son with cerebral palsy who prayed to God asking that his deceased mom come to him. Suddenly, he saw a vision of his mother. As the story goes, she told her son that she had to leave him so that he would learn to do things on his own. This story was a reminder to me that we are all here to learn lessons. Once those lessons are learned and our purpose for being here is met, we go home.
Heaven welcomed home an angel yesterday. Our loved ones can and do continue to watch over us and help us from the Other Side. Although I am deeply saddened, it brings me comfort to know that Ray has now gotten his wings and will continue to help others. Although we needed him here; Heaven needed him more.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of my friend Ray. For information, please visit www.rayofhopefoundation.com.