Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
Our neighbor passed away today and my heart is heavy. He was too young to die, leaving his loyal wife and three kids – two in college and one in high school. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer just four months ago. The same cancer that took my Grandpa’s life.
We didn’t know him very well, just enough to exchange the usual neighborly pleasantries. But he was courageous enough to walk across the street last month to tell TJ and me about his diagnosis, his decision to forgo chemotherapy and his fears for his family. We know enough to know he was a good man who deserved to live a longer life. He worked two jobs to support his family and I often heard him drive away in his truck at four or five o’clock in the morning to start work. He took pride in his yard. Mowing grass, trimming trees and planting flowers, then spraying it all down to the storm drain, leaving a job well done. He was a patriotic veteran and once told us he will always fly a flag on his house because there is always a soldier on duty.
I keep looking across the street at that yellow house and thinking about the family within. As my home is full of the activities of life – kids laughing and playing and fighting and crying – their home has been full of the activities of death. A medical supply van delivered a hospital bed two days ago. Hospice nurses have been coming and going. Their family members arrived yesterday, to say their last goodbyes, and today, they gathered outside as his body was driven away.
TJ and I paid our respects yesterday and stood by his side as he lay in a coma. We hugged his wife and his kids and walked back home crying. I did what women do when they want to help but feel helpless. I cooked a meal for their family, wondering to myself as I rolled up chicken enchiladas. How on earth does a family cope with the loss of their husband and father?
Suddenly, the trivial things in life are not important. And the reason TJ and I were arguing the other day? I don’t care anymore. In fact, I don’t even remember why. But I know I want to live a long, long life together. So tonight, I’ll tuck my kids in bed with extra hugs and kisses and “I love you’s”. I’ll offer prayers of peace for our neighbors. I’ll cook more meals to show we care. And I’ll think about Romans 12:15.