His death had not come as a shock to any of us, least of all the one who had nursed him, like her first husband, all through it. Right to the end. 24/7/365.
I paid my respects to him in the casket, and got into the wake’s receiving line, headed by this woman who was most similar to me (spiritually) than anyone else in the parish — yet so different. So godly.
The group of family waiting to be addressed was very large — both she and he had been married/with-children before, both widowed, and the adult children were all here along with their own children.
I handed my mystery of a friend a paper bag just before I hugged her, “This is for you.” She unhugged as time passed and looked inside the bag to find 2 large cans of Ensure and a Skybar. She laughed, but we both knew whatall grief can do.
It shuts the throat. Maybe because the deceased can no longer partake of this sandwich, that soup; it turns out, I think, that one can choke down only coffee and plain M and M’s.. until after all the public pomp. After it all.
This was not the time to say so, and it never has been, but not in 4 million years would I, if widowed, repeat the extreme level of service of caring for another spouse. Not in 4.5 million years would I take on the care of another if I could help it at all. It, for me, had started when I was 8, and had continued almost unabated for the next 5 decades. One can fool all others; one cannot fool oneself.
I paid my respects to this good man, again, and then from the doorway, I waved at his widow, and winked.
She has not remarried, nor even dated, I think. She turned all her attention to the church and all her little ministries in it. If she is unhappy, no one knows. No one but God.
I hope He has a wild horse waiting for her. I like to think of her riding bareback, barefooted, as far as the inner eye can imagine on that beach of gold that ever turns a lovely bend directly to Him.
I like to think of her husbands that way, too.