Yesterday a beloved neighbor slipped away. She had been my neighbor for almost 20 years.
I’m so sorry to see her go. She was a faithful friend.
She loved homemade bread, shrimp chowder, chili soup and cheesy noodle bake. She exclaimed over every single thing I ever took her to eat, and she encouraged and laughed and chatted, even when she could hardly breathe.
At Christmas, she told me that she expected that this was her last Christmas with her family. Hospice was coming, and it seemed like the time was short. When I talked to her last week, she spoke of happy things, and I told her how much I loved the candles she had given me for Christmas. “I love candles,” I said, “And I was so pleased with the ones you gave me.”
“Oh, Mary Ann,” she said, in her breathless, raspy little voice. “I knew you liked candles. I remembered that you would buy them at Happy Harry’s when I worked there . . . ”
I thought about this fragile little lady, and marveled that she would remember something like that. She had so many burdens. Life wasn’t kind to her. Her only daughter was murdered, and she and her husband adopted their granddaughter as their own. Then her husband, Charlie became ill and ten years ago, she was left a widow in her early fifties. Since then, it has been just her and her granddaughter and more recently, mostly just her, in the house across the road from our chicken house lane. And for the last couple of years, she has been so ill.
Her son called me this morning. I had called last night to her house, and there was no answer. I left a message on her son’s answering machine. “Just wondering what’s up,” I said. “I’ve been a bit preoccupied with an injured knee, and I suddenly noticed that there hasn’t been any activity over at your mom’s house. Just wondered if everything’s okay. There isn’t any light, and she doesn’t answer her phone. If you could call me and give me an update, I’d appreciate it.”
When the phone rang this morning, the caller I.D. said “Mary Mariner” and my hope soared. Mary Jane was calling me! She must have gotten my message, or saw that I had called. But it wasn’t Mary Jane. It was her son. He was calling to say that he had gotten my message late, but that his mom had slipped away around ten o’clock last night. She hadn’t been doing very well, so they had taken her to the hospice center a few days ago. She had rallied, and they were planning to bring her back home, but yesterday she started to steadily decline, and while they watched around her bed, she quietly went into eternity.
It’s been a melancholy day for me. Yesterday was the second anniversary of my friend, Ethel’s death. That’s been on my mind alot. I’ve been missing my dad an unusual amount, aided on by a vivid dream of seeing him in a crowd and actually feeling him hug me like he used to do. And in our present society, there are so many broken people, in need of the physical things of life like fuel oil and food and a place to live. People in need of so much more, too. Comfort, healing of the soul, friendship, encouragement, and HOPE. Somehow to my ears and to my heart have come stories that are not as hard to believe as they are to assimilate. Does that make sense? I wish I didn’t believe the stories. But I know them to be true.
Many of you have asked about my knee. I am not going to pretend that it is okay. It isn’t. And we still don’t know what will be done. But whatever is going on in my knee is nothing compared to what is going on in the lives of so many people.
If only we could get people to seek The Healer of Broken Lives with the same confidence that they go to the healers of broken bodies.