A great man passed away today. It shouldn’t have stunned me; we saw it far off. Yet, facing the world and knowing that he’s not here facing it with us…
I have so many memories tucked away, memories I pull up regularly. Words I use because he used them first. Foods I love because he introduced them to me.
No one who knew him can pretend they’re not mourning. He created community wherever he went. He gave and gave, not piles of dust-collecting trinkets, but himself. He was hospitality both at home and away from home.
And he’s gone.
I only had an hour before I left to visit a friend and her family. After five months of being apart, she and I had a lot of catching up to do. I even met the family’s feisty Siamese kitten.
The daughters were trying to get their 20,000 words in for the day and I learned all sorts of things. Oldest daughter said her classmates bought bags of suckers and sawed off the sticks. They could eat them behind their masks during class. “What happens if the teacher asks a question?” I asked. Younger daughter was feasting on my fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies when she announced that she didn’t really like chocolate. In fact, she preferred peas. Next time should I bring cookies with peas in them? She giggled.
The girls begged me to resume English class with them because of their “fatal” English grades this year.
We looked at pictures of my sister’s wedding. “And you? Did you find a husband in your country?” My friend leaned in close, wanting every juicy detail. But just then, her daughters noticed the Christmas tree of lights along the boulevard and called us to the patio door to see.
Slowly I walked home, winding my way up the flights of apartment stairs, smelling the aromas of the various apartments until I entered our quiet space that still smelled like biryani–the lunch I had made shortly before I heard the news and the food that will forever remind me of him. Unmopped floors and overflowing trash cans demanded attention, but I sat down with another round of tears.
Just this week, someone told me that when we reach eternity, we will look back at the gulf between missing a loved one and joining them. That gulf will be a tiny blip, inconsequential. I agree, but today feels bigger than that blip already.
Oh, God. What were You thinking?
It’s not a fair question, I know. But that’s where I am today: grateful God is big enough to listen to unfair questions.