There’s another hole in my heart today, one that wasn’t there before. What was there before was a space, a space filled perfectly by a dear lady that my friend and I visited in the nursing home. We have been visiting her for a few years now, I can’t really say how many. Time has a way of passing by unnoticed until some event demands that we take notice. Today was such an event; the death of this dear lady. My Sunday afternoon friend, I could call her, though we visited her other times as well, but lately it had been mostly Sunday afternoons.
This sense of loss I’m feeling, has taken me by surprise. Although, I guess we are never fully prepared to lose someone. I always think there will be one more time together. And now, today, I know there won’t be, not here on earth anyway. I feel the presence of the newly emptied space even as I realize I won’t be visiting her this afternoon. Sunday afternoons will look different now.
How is it that I am so impacted by someone who didn’t know my name or what I did or anything about my life or me? You see when we met, just a few short years ago, this dear lady was already in the memory care unit of her facility. We had no history together, had no shared experiences or family connections
And the same is true for me as well. I never knew this dear lady other than as she was when I met her, in this particular season of her life. I never knew her as the wife, mother, neighbor, co-worker, cook, gardener, pet owner and so much more that she certainly must have been before we ever met. She was unable to tell me of these things which had been her life experience and she had no need to know of the things that were mine. We simply had relationship in the moments we were given each week. We read from the Bible, what we discovered was her favorite Psalm, as well as other passages and watched God’s living Word do His work in her and in us. We sang hymns and learned which ones she loved to sing out with enthusiasm and joy. We prayed with her and over her and saw the peace and comfort our prayers brought her and received her grateful thanks in return. And so we became family of sorts in the short time given to us.
I suppose the idea was that my friend and I would be a blessing to this dear lady. But somehow I was the one who felt blessed by God after each visit. I was the one who tended to look forward to the visits, she had no expectation that we were coming or not. When did this turn from duty to privilege without my awareness? Probably during the same time that the space in my heart had been created by and filled with this dear lady’s presence.
Her face would light up with recognition when she would first see us, she would greet us warmly and always thanked us for coming. My friend always said this dear lady had a twinkle in her eyes, unless she wasn’t feeling well. We saw her through a hospitalization, (from which she recovered) and a move to a new facility most recently. She always seemed to bounce back.
This dear lady was fulfilling God’s purposes for her still, in this season of her life. When we are a part of God’s story, our lives always have meaning and purpose even if we don’t see it or it’s not apparent to others. She could still tell her daughter that she loved her. She was teaching me compassion for and awareness of people who could easily be forgotten in this final season of their once vibrant and productive lives. She was showing me that everyone has infinite worth in God’s eyes. Yes, God was still using her to accomplish His good purposes in any lives that came into contact with hers. I will miss her.
Today I’m feeling the emptiness in the space in my heart that was hers alone to occupy. It will remain empty now, another hole in my heart; well worth the price of allowing another person a place in my life and heart. The person whose life is well lived will have a heart that resembles swiss cheese as a testimony to all those who have been loved by him or her. That is the price, unfilled holes in the heart.
Today I thank God for this dear lady, knowing how important she is to her Creator. A sparrow fell today, was caught in the arms of Jesus and taken to the place He had been preparing for her all along. I can rejoice! I can mourn and I can rejoice at the same time. Only with God is this possible. thank you, Lord.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. . . . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
sincerely, Grace Day