Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.—MATTHEW 5:4 (NIV)
We came back to the house my father-in-law had shared with his wife for 50 years. After the funeral everyone had gone, leaving behind flowers, casseroles and deli trays. For the first time, everything was quiet. He looked to the door as if she might walk in at any moment.
I held up the mail stack that had piled on the dining room table after the months of her illness, chemotherapy and
radiation, hospital visits and hospice. “What do you want us to do with this?”
I opened a cabinet to look for stamps and a pen, and found chemo medicine and wigs, as if his wife was still there.
“I just don’t know,” he said with a sigh.
In that moment, I knew that the mail, the wigs and everything else that seemed ordinary wasn’t ordinary to him. They were all reminders of their lives together. In that instant, he didn’t need to pay the electric bill. He needed his wife. His son. His grandchildren.
We gathered around him. We ate unidentifiable casseroles as we listened to him tell us stories about his wife. When he was ready, we finally did help him pay those bills, settle the health insurance and other tasks.
He had been her caregiver for fifty-plus years. It was time for someone to care for him as well.