Monday, March 31, 2008

Cool people

One reason for loving my job is that I get to meet absolutely terrific people I wouldn't have met otherwise. I got to see a favorite recently--he is the widowed husband of a woman who died some time ago after a short illness. I was the hospice chaplain with her and the family when she died and I quite lost my heart to the family. Her husband is now in his eighties, and he's not in the best health himself, and he has some dementia. But he has one of the biggest hearts I've ever encountered, and he's utterly emotionally open and utterly delightful as well. When I was meeting with the family to plan his wife's memorial service, I remember sitting with him -- he was utterly shattered by this loss as they'd been married for a long time and very close, and had been a terrific match for one another. Husband was ex-military and had seen combat in two wars, and I remember he told me that losing his wife was a pain worse than anything he had experienced in his life, worse even than combat in wartime. While we were planning, and I was marvelling at the family and their grace in the face of ravaging grief, a group of tree trimmers was working at the house next door. Suddenly there came a crash that made the whole house shake, as a giant limb fell to the ground. Husband looked at me. "Well," he said. "That was your car." Best deadpan I have EVER seen. How could anyone fail to adore such a man? As it turned out he was in the hospital over the weekend with a touch of pneumonia. I got to go visit him and hold his hand and hear how profoundly the loss of his wife had affected him. And I got to tell him that I think he is an incredible man and that I wish there were more like him in the world. He went home today before I could visit again, but I am praying hard for him. He's lost 30-some pounds since his wife died, and I don't know if the pneumonia is a passing thing or the beginning of the end. I do know that his kids are crazy about him and have rearranged their own lives to keep him safe in his home for as long as humanly possible. I wish them time to keep sharing their love with one another, and I wish for the goodness and love that is embodied in that family to continue to spread out into the world. And I am thankful beyond words to have met them.


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