For 62 years they lived and worked side by side, sharing every imaginable part of life. They raised four beautiful daughters . . . beautiful not just in appearance but in character and spirit as well. They served their Lord at every opportunity, even joining with others of like mind to start a school that still exists today. Rarely ever were they apart and, if they were, it was for the briefest period of time possible. Until April 1, 2018. On that day, Death laid claim to his body, ending his suffering and freeing his soul—but leaving her alone.
Only she wasn’t really alone. She had her children and their families, although the closest was still over an hour away. She had her friends and her fellow church members. She was surrounded by people who loved and cared for her as she did for them in return. And she didn’t just sit down and feel sorry for herself. There seemed to constantly be somewhere to go, something to do, someone to keep her company . . . until night would fall . . . and the world would grow quiet and still. It was then the memories would come to keep her company . . . and to remind her of how much she had truly lost.
You might never have known how much she missed him since she was so good at the business of staying busy. She sold their house on the lake and moved to a smaller one in town, one that was closer to everything and everyone. She seemed to enjoy making it her home . . . but it wasn’t their home. There were lunches with friends and concerts on Main Street and church activities. And finally, a month long adventure with her daughter and son-in-law that took her up through Bowling Green, Kentucky and then to Lincoln’s log cabin in Illinois . . . on to Mackinac Island followed by a good drenching at Niagara Falls then onward to Canada for seven days. There was camping by the ocean in Maine and history lessons in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D. C. As they headed for home they even swung by Scotts Hill to meet her newest great-grandson. During the entire trip, she outwalked them both while managing to exhaust everyone who tried to keep up with her travels on Facebook. Frankly, she could make the Energizer Bunny look lazy.
But the return home brought fresh grief and dread—the dread of being alone. After a month of company 24/7 she could not fathom the solitude she knew was waiting. Even throughout her travels, sprinkled ‘mongst the pictures and the itineraries, were snippets that whispered of her overwhelming loss, quotes and links that told you how much she was hurting. Two days after returning home she visited her husband’s grave in Jackson. A week after that she was admitted to the hospital . . . and 5 days after that, she joined him.
When I asked if I might write about her mother –this amazing woman with whom I had grown close in the aftermath of her husband’s death—one of her daughters remarked that she had a lot of years left, but she didn’t want them. And she was right. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her new house or wasn’t excited about moving in to it. It wasn’t that she didn’t fiercely love her family and spending time with them. It wasn’t that the life she now had didn’t have its moments of joy. There was just someplace else she wanted to be more.
Before you go, please take a close look at the picture that accompanies this post. I didn’t take it, but I was privileged to see this same scene, every Sunday, for more years than I can count. If he didn’t reach for her hand, she slipped hers into his. Always. That one gesture told the story of their life together. It also explains why she wanted so much to be with him again.