Have you ever had one of those moments when talking to someone and their emotions were so raw, so open that you could feel their pain? That happened to Vi and I a short while ago.
I know all of my neighbors, some better than others. Some even just enough to exchange a good morning of even just a wave of the arm to say hello. This was the relationship that we had with Eugene and Barbara. In the summer often saw them in their back yard and the wave of greeting would be exchanged. I suppose it would be more accurate to say I knew who they were as opposed to saying I really knew them.
I saw Barbara out in the lane one day and called out the usual good day. Her response was not the customary wave, instead she came over and into the yard. Just one look at her face and it was apparent something was terribly wrong. Controlling her emotions as best she could, she told us Eugene had died. He had actually passed away several weeks before and the funeral had come and gone. Funeral being attended by family and a few close friends.
This news caught us totally off guard. Yes, we knew Eugene had a heart condition, actually very similar to my own. So while the news came as a big surprise, I think it is fair to say it wasn’t a great shock.Off guard or unprepared was what we were as Barbara told us of the events.
The emergency trip to the closest hospital, the transfer to a larger hospital for more intense care. The arrangements she had made for the funeral, right down to the smallest detail. She spoke of the lose of her husband of 47 years and of the whole it left inside of her and her loneliness. She told us of how one day while preparing supper she, I suppose out of habit had set a place for him at the table and of how hard it had been to put those same dishes back in the cupboard.
Hey, Howdle men don’t cry but by that time I did have water leaking out of the corner of my eyes. She had gotten out of bed that morning expecting it to be a “normal” day, she had no idea that fateful day would turn her world upside down. Her life is changed forever and how quickly and unexpectedly it happened. Her life is changed forever and that doesn’t mean it with time won’t be good again. She is just not at the point where she can see or even imagine that.
How many times have I written it is so much harder on the families? I have even written on how to talk to the dying, or at least how I would feel comfortable. Yet, here I was I knew there were just no words to comfort her ad I was sure she had heard them all already. We were both left speechless, holding her hand as she let all the pain flow out and there was a lot and I know still is. Ah, the right words to say?????
We have vowed to become more than neighbors that just wave to each other over the fence and will try to be there for her as we can. Many times I believe even just listening, validating feelings is the best and maybe all you can do.
I ask any that may read this. Please just think about this. When you get up tomorrow morning, do you really KNOW how you day will end?