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?
I continue to fight to keep my son alive, for over twelve years now. Hospital. Surgeries. Ambulance. Chronic illnesses. My neighbour knows me, I’ve been over several times, our kids grew up together going to school and scouts. But my neighbour is oblivious; is either completely ignorant or a typical egotist. I have people I know through my blog on the internet who care more what goes on with my son and help in practical ways and I’ve never met them.
My slightly cynical point is that while I wholeheartedly believe we should be connected to our environment, pay attention to our neighbours, tragic circumstances are even not enough to rouse some.
For me, opening my eyes to the light of day, my first thought is always, if my son is no longer with me, it will be alright. You should appreciate every good thing that comes to you. Also when you can wave hello to your neighbour.
Hello Eric and welcome to my blog. After reading your comment I popped over to visit your site and read a bit of your story. you are living what just has to be one of a parents worst nightmares. My heart goes out to you, your son and family. I encourage you, I ask you please to return here as often as you wish. You will find loving support from many.
I am at a lose for words.
Human beings are funny creatures. They deal with ‘stuff’ in strange ways, eh?
I’m glad you’ve connected to some folks and found comfort through those who’ll support you on your journey–no matter the medium.
I wish you peace in the stormy moments. *sending prayers and peacefilled thoughts*
A terrific message, Bill. Thank you. We never know. And, I heartily agree – listen, listen, listen. It is still the greatest gift we can give anyone.
Hi, Sadly, one of the things I often struggle with is keeping my mouth closed long enough to really listen. Nice to hear from you.
Can I just tell you how this truth greatly touched me? I don’t consider myself to be an overly emotional person, but I managed to find a whole lot of emotions just reading what you shared.
And no, I don’t get to know how my day will end–or start for that matter…..and yes, I do take way too many things for granted.
I feel for your neighbor. And I feel for you and Vi. I know that reality had to hit home for both of you, given the circumstances.
We can ‘prepare’ all we want, but living the reality is a whole new level of acceptance, another layer of the onion we get to peel away at.
I’m glad you’ve vowed to be more than the guy ‘over there, waving’. Undoubtedly it’s a whole different world for her. It’s been that with every loss I’ve gotten to wade through….some bigger than others. Yes–whole worlds change and it’s a tough moment in time to do different. Years of routines we find comfort and familiarity in are totally disrupted, forever changed. And yes, we begin new ones. And we grieve….each in our own way.
No one ought to have to walk through that alone.
That’s just my sentiments. I’m a firm believer in the ‘we’–it’s a lonely enough world some moments, yaknow?
Okay…I’ll be done being emotional. But I won’t let the message go. It’s an important one for me. And messages like this don’t show up in my life without a reason.
Thank you for bringing it to me.
((((((((((((( Bill ))))))))))))))
(((((((((((( Vi )))))))))))))
You’re both very well loved, I hope you know that.
Hi Mel and thank you for this comment. You are so correct for both Vi and I listening to Barbara did strike close to home for both of us given the circumstance. We were both glad to have been ther for her such as it was. Adapting to change can be one of the most difficult things in life that we can face. Granted that depends on the magnitude of the change. I am going to go back though my saved drafts, I know I have started a post on change in our lives. Who knows maybe I even have started it 3 or 4 times. It is some thing important to me and I need to get it up.
Thank you my friend
You’re right in that listening is sometimes all we can do and is the best thing we can do. I’ve been in circumstances where just talking about the situation over and over got everything out and really helped. Thank you and Vi for caring about your neighbors.
hi Jill, you are so right. Just listening can so often be a big help, I know from my own experience.
Nice hearing from you.
I’m feeling very sorry for Barbara . She has faced a very heavy loss , the loss of her beloved husband . That’s really unfortunate . I think she should be with her family who can support her at this weak time of hers . You’ll are wonderful neighbors who are always there with her but I think she should move somewhere else where there will be enough company which won’t let her feel lonely all day .
It is a struggle for here, at this time I do not believe she has any plans on moving. It is a thought though.
Thanks for sharing.
Bill – thank you for sharing your own grief with those of us who read and love your blog.
Yes, there are the practical things that must be taken care of, but oh…what of those things of the heart that only time, tears, and strength can help.
My husband and I are preparing for the practical stuff, but we also know that we’re not apt to die together on the same day at the moment, so we realize that one of us will be left behind with the grief.
And, how right you are: that’s the hardest thing of all…I write this with tears streaming down my cheeks realizing that this thing called death isn’t easy – no matter how much we think, plan, and prepare.
I asked one of my closet friends this week what she would like when I die. She asked to think about it a bit, and today she called me with her request: she wants a picture of me and my husband Richard taken on a happy, healthy day. Gosh, I hope that I can find one!
Brings me to a saying I read once – – “This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What do you today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind…let it be something good.” – Author Unknown –
hi patti, I thank you for sharing that wonderful quote, it pretty much says it all. I wish you and your husband long healthy lives together.
One of my friends remarked that I tend to just get on and do things. What you say, the appreciation of each day. That each day might be my last, that I might not have a tomorrow. That’s why.
Excellent post and my heart goes out to your neighbour.
Hi BC, you are right, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Nice hearing from you again.
Hang in there, friend. You are an inspiration to us all!
Welcome to my blog and I thank you for your comment.
Thankfully, I just stumbled upon your wonderful blog and was imediately struck with how much LIFE there is within a Dying Man’s Daily Journal! xoxo
I’m so sorry for Barbara, and I’m glad she’s got neighbors like you and Vi and that she felt comfortable approaching you with her grief. I can relate to the story about her setting a dinner plate for her late husband. My brother has been gone for ten years now and just a few months ago I tried to add him to my address book in my new cell phone.
I’ll keep Barbara in my prayers along with you and Vi.