A Personal Reflection
Steven…one of my favorite neighbors. One thing that draws me to this man is his smiling face and always positive attitude. He is a die hard Oakland Raiders fan and that sealed the deal on our neighborly friendship. I usually see Steven whenever I walk Bailey. Our conversation usually revolves around the Raiders, how their season is going (bad this year), their players, and what we think will happen in the weeks to come.
One Saturday morning as Bailey and I were on our usual morning walk I spotted Steven in his front yard putting trash into one of his containers. I smiled and said hello, he looks up for a moment said hi and immediately goes back to what he was doing. I found this unusual since it did not reflect the Steven I’ve come to know. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was fine and went back to what he was doing. Again I found that quite odd. He turned to me and said he lied, that he wasn’t okay. When I approached him I saw that he had tears in his eyes. He told me that his wife, Anne had just recently passed away. I gasped as this was quite a shock to me since I had just seen her a few weeks before. Instinctively I reached out and gave Steven a hug and told him how sorry I was. Tears were now streaming down Steven’s face. To see this man’s grief was absolutely heart wrenching. The empath in me was suddenly grief stricken as well.
Steven went on to tell me many things. Their 50th anniversary was coming up and they had scheduled a trip to France to celebrate. He didn’t want to go by himself, but his children told him he should go anyway. He said everything he did was with Anne. Nothing will ever be the same. He was angry, very angry. Angry with the world, angry with God for taking Anne from him. He told me how she read from the Bible every night and more importantly how she lived it everyday. Steven said she was probably looking down on him now telling him to keep the faith. Right now he had no faith.
Tears were streaming down my face as I listened to Steven. I didn’t say anything and just let him talk as it seemed he just needed to get his anger out. I know there are stages to the grief process and Steven was in the beginning of his. We hugged again and I repeated how sorry I was. I didn’t want to say anything cliche or anything that would trigger more sadness. I let Steven talk, I offered my condolences and that was all I could offer at the time.
As we parted I was trying to process the whole encounter. I wondered what I would say next time we met. Was he going to be alright? Would his family be there for him? A couple of weeks went by and I saw Steven with his son and grandson. I approached and introduced myself. Steven had a smile on his face, but seemed very sad. He didn’t seem angry like the last time I saw him. It was comforting to me that he was with some of his family. A few weeks later Steven and I met up as I was walking Bailey. He had a big smile on his face, asked me how I was doing, and started to talk about the Raiders. Okay I thought to myself, Steven was going to be alright after all.
So, why did I decided to write this blog? I don’t really know. This experience has resonated with me since September. It was always in the back of my mind to write about my experience. I suppose today was the day. Maybe it will help someone going through the grief process. Time does heal.
We should count our blessings with the time that we have with our loved ones. I’ll leave you with that.