Tag Archives: kindness

His wife died

She died yesterday. His wife has been sick for a while, and we all knew it would be soon. Friends offer comfort, using the same phrases we have all used “I’m so sorry” “She’s not suffering now” “You’re in our prayers.”

Everyone means well and what else can they say? I wonder, as he nods and shakes hands, or accepts the endless casserole dishes, if he wishes they would all leave him alone?

I watch the delicate ballet of people moving slowly, the way people do when they get up at night, trying not to wake rest of the household. They are being considerate and kind, and he knows it. It’s all they can do, really, and he knows that, too.

I’m grateful that the usual things are happening for him. Things he can count on, tradition, ritual, expected words and gestures. I know that soon he will be catching himself walking oddly, alone instead of in tandem with her. He’ll throw away countless pots of coffee before he remembers he only needs to make enough for one. How many browning bananas will he throw into the compost pile before he changes the grocery list he’s been using for years?

How long before his friends begin urging him to “get out,” a euphemism for “find someone new.” Will he decide to keep learning the rules of solitaire- living alone?

I, too, am glad she is no longer suffering, but I feel the usual disconnect. This is another experience I won’t have.

My break-ups were devastating. But they were the result of betrayal, abandonment, not the natural progression of life, which is death. After the last, I made a conscious decision to stop trying to do something at which I obviously sucked. I chose to be alone. Now, after several years, I’m poor but man, I could teach a class in Living Alone and Loving It.

I’m not glad that this is something I’ll never know, like childbirth or having health insurance. This is just an observation.

And I’m really looking forward to getting on the Trail.


Christmas thoughts

There’s only a week or so before Christmas and any of us are already in that panicked state that seems to define the month of December. We are beginning to anticipate the gatherings of friends and family, and dread them at the same time. We toggle between giddy happiness and glowering resentment. Old hurts and regrets that we hold at bay the rest of the year loom large now.

Maybe we should let go of childhood beliefs. There is no Santa Claus other than the generosity of our own hearts. WE carry Santa around with us.  Next time you pass a ringing bell for the Salvation Army, drop in a dollar (or whatever you have clinking in your pocket) say Merry Christmas and feel better. I’m not here as a spokesperson for any charity-the pont is to give. To everyone. Don’t keep a little notebook in your pocket to mark down what you got in return. I mean it. Just give. Give your smile, a kind word, hold the door. Help carry the garbage to the curb, make those last copies so your coworker can leave with everyone else, help your classmate edit a  paper so they can enjoy the holidays too.

Do you see ways to help but think, “oh yeah, if I start that he’ll expect me to do it every week and what is he going to do for me?” Stop it. Just stop.

Those of you who are lucky enough to have jobs that give you the holidays off, appreciate that. Now take a look around. Those people in the convenience store? They don’t get Christmas off and no, they don’t get extra pay either. Even if they did, they’re making $8 an hour…big deal. Those people who brought you that holiday special? That nice cold beer? They aren’t getting the holidays off. They’re working overtime. TIP them. Acknowledge that because YOU want to go out on the holidays these people are required to work. The guys who own the businesses are often at home with their families, but not the employees. Please, don’t take it out on them because you have to put up with your mother-in-law for 3 days. Be kind. It’s not that hard. Really.

You’ll feel noble and maybe the holidays won’t seem so dreadful anymore.

Happy Holidays!