A few nights ago, we shared a meal with our neighbor. His essence is of a man who has lived a long life, and lived it well. My children did their best to impress him, sitting tall around our big kitchen table. He said they had quite the vocabulary, which I think was a polite way of saying they talk a lot.
I’m thankful my children had the opportunity to be in the presence of this older gentleman, and share life and conversation with someone who has experienced exponentially more life than they have. I am thankful for that opportunity. There is something invaluable gained by sitting down and sharing a meal. It is an easy thing to miss in the rush of getting things done, and getting places. But, memories don’t come from our busyness, they come from sharing life.
Company is an easy thing for me to neglect. I am an introvert of introverts. Aloneness is my comfort zone, or so I tell myself. I have my people. I have the loud and wild love of my children. My husband is there to witness the person I am that no one else sees. Aloneness is my luxury, but how would I feel if it was my normalcy?
Our neighbor’s wife passed away in January after over 60 years of marriage. It doesn’t seem right that after so many years together he has to move forward without her. I think of him sitting alone in his house, the witness to his daily life absent, and I can’t keep my own tears back. How does he manage?
His conversation is marked with phrases like “when I pass on” and “when the Lord calls me home.” He chuckled as he told us his doctors work in the expression “at your age” into every corner of his appointments. He puts forth a buoyant spirit, but the ache can be seen in his eyes. He misses his wife. He desires purpose for lonely days.
As he was leaving, he hugged me and thanked me for dinner. “It was my pleasure. Let’s do it again soon.” I said.
“Yes. And you all pop over and see us sometime.”
I smiled and nodded.
But then pain passed over his face. “Us. I keep saying us.”
I smiled a sympathetic smile. But sitting here now, I wish I would have said something else. I wish I would have said, “Us is okay. Us is the right word. The influence of your wife is all through your home and all through your heart. Not only that, the Lord is with you.” That is what I wish I would have said, not just to comfort, but because it’s the truth. I always know just the right thing to say….a day later. But I guess I know what I will say the next time he corrects his “us”.
You are not alone. The Lord is with you. If Christ resides in your heart, you are an “us”. The people who you loved and have lost are truly a part of who you are. We do not grow and become in isolation. Sharing life changes people. Just one dinner with my neighbor changed me.