– Monday Muse –
Dear One, I was not without empathy for those I know who are widowed. At least, I thought I was not without empathy. That was until recently when, at eleven o’clock at night, after leaving Ron, my husband, on the heart floor of the hospital I stepped out into a wintry night to make my way home. It had been raining, sleeting and snowing.
The route home had but three choices, three hills, each of them long and that night, slippery. Years ago, before cell phones, I slipped off one of those hilly roads with a van full of children. After walking to the nearest house, I asked to use a phone and was declined. The homeowner was sick and tired of stranded drivers knocking at his door.
Oh yes, I am only too familiar with what wintry off-road situations can arise. In bad conditions, I favor the middle hills of Barnes Road. They are steeper, but shorter hills…perhaps more difficult… but, with luck, quickly covered.
The night of Ron’s admission my concern over the conditions were heightened by Ron’s ER nurse. When, after the nurse’s long absence, he apologized for keeping Ron waiting by saying, “Sorry, there was an emergency, its bad out there, icy roads, car accident.” Knowing that I would be driving home alone on hazardous roads added to our concerns. Immediately, I reminded myself, fear is worse than reality. Don’t fall victim to it.
By the time I left the hospital and stepped into the cold, dark night our car was covered with ice and snow, more ice than snow. I wondered, do we even have a scrapper in this car? We did. I was already cold from sitting in ER, my bare hands quickly stiffened as I scrapped front and back windows.
I was fortunate, as I approached Barnes Hill there were no cars on the road. I sped up and had an uninterrupted run up the first hill. With the blades scrapping and smudging the windshield, I did my best to keep the Malibu within the two, tire tracks ahead. To the rhythmic sound of the wipers, pressed in by darkness, I clung tightly to the steering wheel, feeling as though I was alone, not just alone in the car, on the road…alone, but as if there were no others. The sense was utterly unfamiliar.
If I should go off the road, I would not want to call anyone at this time. And I certainly would not call Ron for help, or even ask for suggestions. He needs rest. I would not want to trouble any of our kids, or anyone else either. I guess I’d call a wrecker.
With that settled, I took my eyes off the road ahead for just a second and looked to the right and left sides to see nothing, nothing but dark. The sense of isolation heightened and I thought, your widow friends know this feeling. They know it well, have known it on and off for years. I was stunned. They do, don’t they? All that time, I thought I was empathetic. I thought I had a sense of what being a widow or a widower was like, but I did not.
For sometimes they must feel what I am feeling now. And even this feeling I have can’t be a fullness of empathy, for my husband lives! Oh me of such pathetic empathy.
I was ashamed, and I was embarrassed at how weak my attempts to comfort grieving spouses must have seemed. But most of all, I was grateful, grateful for another Holy Spirit teaching. With those thoughts set aside, I braced myself for the last of the two hills.
“Ah,” I breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled onto Old Farm Lane, up our snowy driveway, watched the garage door rise, and fall behind me. I was home, and I was alone, but not for long. I went straight to bed and found, once more, that nearly every downside has an upside. I could stretch out, for Ron and I share only a full size mattress.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
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