Recently a friend of mine lost her husband of 34 years. Because of COVID and work and, well just 2020 in general, I was unable to attend his funeral.
Earlier this year, I had a close friend die from COVID leaving his two grown children and his wife. I was at the Memorial, but the funeral was during the thick of COVID, and it was not possible to attend. Family only.
It’s my custom to wait a few weeks, and then send a card or make a call. I know that weeks after all of the news and activity, oftentimes that’s when the reality of the loss hits, and the most lonesome days and nights become difficult, so that’s when I like to reach out.
As always, and probably like everyone else, I often hold the pen in my hand and stare at the card, right? I mean – what do you say? May the memories comfort you? May you have peace knowing your loved one no longer suffers? What’s the right thing to say?
And time passes by. Life becomes somewhat normal again. Or, at least that’s what I thought.
But two weeks ago I met the most delightful little 99-year-old woman. As we chatted and she shared some of her life with me, she said this, “The Lord sure knew what He was doing. He gave me the husband who was just right – just for me. I met him on December 3, I fell in love with him on December 4, and I married him on March 15. He has been gone for 26 years now, and I’ve never stopped missing him.”
Twenty-six years, and she’s never stopped missing him? I questioned her about that. She just smiled and said she couldn’t wait to see him again, and was confident that she would. Precious.
I’m not exactly sure what it was I thought before I met her. Maybe in some sort of naive (or maybe even ignorant) way, I thought that the love somehow faded over time. But that in fact, is not the case according to my new friend, and I trust her because she is 99 for crying out loud! I’ve never had a love like that, so I’ve no clue what it’s like to miss someone that much for that long. So I’m still not really sure what to write in a sympathy card.
I just know I think I had it wrong all these years. I’ll have to go visit her again. Maybe she’ll have the answer. If she does, I’ll be sure and let you know. In fact, I might just make a list of deep life questions for her and try to get as much of her 99 years of wisdom as she’s willing to share.
Meanwhile, if you’re a widow and I sent you a card that said something stupid – I’m really, really sorry.
“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12 ESV