Alone in the Crowd

He is alone.

Today, he says goodbye to his partner of over sixty years, and he is alone.  He should be surrounded by friends and family, all supporting and loving him, yet there he stands, alone.

No.

I have, perhaps, misstated his condition.  He is surrounded by friends and family.  They are and have been, supportive.  They are talking with each other, laughing their way through the pain of loss–remembering a mother and a grandmother who loved and lived, and helped to shape their world.

And still–from my vantage point away from the group, I see him, separate from the flow and camaraderie of shared memories.  In the center of the herd circled around to protect him, he stands silent with a confused look in his eyes.

Sixty years.

Sixty years, he was part of something.  Something bigger than the sum of the parts.  Tonight, he stands and realizes that the something has changed–fundamentally and without recourse.  The herd around him will protect him for a time, giving him a chance to adapt, to heal.  But, they will go on raising families, working at jobs, loving their spouses still by their sides.

He is alone.

Again I think I have, perhaps, misstated his condition.  He is alone in the sense that his companion is no longer beside him, but he has something else.  He spoke of it earlier to me.

He has hope.

He has assurance.

Both have their foundation in a faith nurtured for many years, a faith shared with his now absent partner.

He will need them both, as well as the faith.

Tough days are ahead of him.  His life will never–never–be the same again.  The hours of his days will stretch on in lonely minutes which he knows not how to fill.  His nights will be spent in sleepless dreariness and one-sided conversations with himself about the past.

But, he is part of something bigger.  Bigger than the binding of two people together in a lifetime of living and loving and growing together.  Bigger than the family they raised together.  Bigger than the fellowship they had with a local group of Christian believers.

The assurance is that one day a great multitude will gather together on the other side of that strange frontier crossing we call death.  The great hope, that he will be a part of that crowd, along with her, gives reason to move on from here.

Alone?

Yeah.  Kind of.

For now.

Still putting one foot in front of the other, though.  Still setting his sights on that day.

It’ll do.

“And the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
(Genesis 2:18a ~ KJV)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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