Today, he seemed smaller somehow.
He was never a big man. Still, the wizened little fellow who had wandered inside from the gray day wasn’t the man I remembered. Something was missing.
As we talked, I remembered what it was that had made him bigger.
She was always with him. Always.
I asked him how he was doing, really wanting to know. It seemed he could tell that, so he answered as honestly as he knew how.
I’m lonely. Just—lonely.
Fifty-seven years, she had been at his side. The farmer’s wife works harder than the farmer, and is concerned over twice as much. Still, they raised a family, side by side. They went to church, side by side. They slept in the same bed, side by side.
He took her hand as they sat, side by side, one day a couple of months ago and told her he loved her, and she just went to sleep.
Just like that—gone.
His days are still full of people and activity, but as the daylight ebbs and evening approaches, the sense of coming night takes hold in his spirit. He returns to his empty house—alone—and prepares to lie down in an empty bed and it envelops him, leaving him again in black darkness.
He is alone for the first time in nearly sixty years.
Alone and small.
And God said, It is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)
I will make a companion who complements him.
He was bigger when she was with him. I’m sure of it.
He knows where she is. The hope is in his eyes when he speaks of her being well and whole now. Still, as he starts for the front door, I see the wistfulness that lingers. He had plans for more time with her—side by side.
He knows she is side by side with another whom she loves now. He wouldn’t take that from her for the world. And, tonight when the loneliness begins to settle into his spirit once more, he will remember it.
Side by side, we labor through the brightest days of our lives. Still side by side, we lean on each other through the darkest times, as well.
And, for a time—in the grand scheme, merely a moment—we may walk alone again to complete our task here in what some call a vale of sorrows.
But, know this: The day will come.
The day will come when we stand side by side once more and rejoice. There will be music, and shouting, and worship.
Side by side, we’ll see Him face to face.
Ah, sweet hope!
Somehow, I don’t expect my friend will be small in that place. Every person there will stand tall.
Side by side.
The days of our lives add up to seventy years,
or eighty, if one is especially strong.
But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression.
Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away.
(Psalm 90:10 ~ NET)
But life will call with daffodils and morning glorious blue skies.
You’ll think of me—some memory, and softly smile to your surprise.
(from When I’m Gone by Joey & Rory ~ Sandy Lawrence songwriter)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.