4.15.2009

Not knowing what to say . . .

Twice this past week I've seen into the pain of others. Twice I've peered into depths that I have never sounded. Twice I've seen a glimpse - a sobering, fleeting glimpse.

I tried to look pain in the eyes, tried to hold it's gaze. Tried to understand, wanting desperately to understand.

I attended a funeral last Saturday, the funeral of a man who had died suddenly, unexpectedly. He was the father of my mothers sisters husband, my uncles father. My cousins Grandfather.

He was Harold.


I knew him slightly - that is before the funeral.

Arriving by myself and a few minuets late I slipped into the back. No one knew I was coming I was not even sure myself the morning I had arrived. I was in town to visit my best friend for the weekend. Nicole was working so I had the day to myself, and I as I planned my morning I decided to attend the funeral of a man that was loved dearly by people I love dearly.

I sat in the back, listening to my Uncle speak, and as he spoke I was able to begin to know his father. There were about 400 people there by my count, as the service continued I began to cry. In the back, by myself, about a man that I knew but a little.

I am sad that I can not know this man.

Just hearing about his life, and all that he had quietly done, those that he had taken care of and loved as his own. Hearing about his faith, hearing the gospel presented - thur what he did and how he lived.

I would like to be able to be buried like that.

I sat in the back, the last row and watched all 400 people exit, some with moist eyes and smiles, some with stony far off stares, bored small children, and weary friends.

I knew many many people there, people I had known before I had left for college, I talked little and listened much.

And as I listened I got to know Harold better.

I had been there for an hour or so when I got in line to pay my respects to Joy, Harold's wife.

I know Joy a little better than Harold, but not much better.

Pay my respects . . . I don't even know what that means.

I stood in line, making small take with those around me, wondering all the while what I was going to say.

What could I say?

This women a few days ago lost her husband of something like 60 years.

What . . . . do I say?


The gap closes, soon it will be my turn.

Thinking about her past week, trying to imagine what it has been for her, trying to imagine what today has been like, the line of people, of faces that has been going by for the past hour, my throat started to swell, and my chest tightened, rubbing away tears that I felt I had no right to shed I gave Joy a big hug.

I swallowed hard - nothing to say.

She looked at me and said how she had always enjoyed my hugs, I could hear the practiced controlled, detached tone of her voice. I looked this woman in the eyes, tried to say something - looked in her eyes and hugged her again. Immediately she looked down at her feet, looking back at me she asked if I had known what a good man her husband was. The controlled detached tone was gone. She looked my in the eyes, and asked if I knew. Saying nothing I gave her another hug.

She looked at me again, tears in both our eyes now - and she said - yes . . . yes, you know.

I gave her one more hug, and then I left.

I cried in my parked car, I am crying now.

I had not spoken at all during the encounter, and yet somehow she knew what I now know.




What a good man her husband was.


That was Saturday - then came Tuesday.


Tuesday was typical till about 6:30 when Tony walked into my life.


Do you - have you ever had that evening you did not expect?

That evening that you will not forget for a long time?
That evening which leaves you shaken?
That evening where you find yourself examining much?
That evening where you really did not know how it was going to end?

Tony was my Tuesday evening.

He wandered into the church 6'5" and a big solid thick 6'5" at that. There were not may people about - we made eye contact, and that's where everything started. He wanted to pray with me.

Tony is a bum, he's got a nice pack, keeps himself clean, he's really big, and due to his size rather intimidating. We talk - we pray - I spend about an two hours with Tony that night. If you listen you can learn much about someone in two hours.

And I did. I learned much about Tony, and I learned much about myself.

We talked about God, and about good dark beer - about parents, and backpacks, and people.
We talked about life in New Orleans after Katrina. About being raised an orphan. College life. Dead dreams. Dead people. and when I say we talked I mean I listened, that is except for the part about good dark beers, we both got excited and talked about that.


But what started out shallow, went deep fast when I shut up and listened.


There are times when I don't know what to say. . .

1 comment:

  1. Praise God for those moments.
    Thank you Lord.

    ReplyDelete