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He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
"The nights are loneliest."
Standing there in a room of his most loved, he was all alone. So was I. I found myself connected to more than words, to the disconnect and fear floating in his eyes. The years stacked neatly for them. They were happy. I could tell by the way he spoke. The papers that I had for him to sign seemed so insignificant. His words rang familiar. She was not yet gone, but close. Death ready to come and it needed to happen. She had suffered and battled with disease long enough. He was waiting as she was letting go. I had to reel him in out of the sacredness waiting with her, his love, to leave to discuss her end of life care. He signed the hospice papers, looked long into my eyes and thanked me genuinely. I heal a bit more every time. Much like a victim, a survivor, the one remaining shell shocked and moving slower than life surrounding, I watched as he stood tall by her side. He knew that the path ahead would be trying. So did I. It’s the one I’ve been walking.
They all forget. The next day just happens as the ones before and the ones following. What's worse is the thought of them remembering at the sight of you. A walking tragedy, polarized. The one left to tell of perseverance and the found silver lining. Most days, especially close to the interruption, you fake it hiding in a facade of strength and learned living. You get lost in the day. I still forget even now. Lapses of time, circumstance and reality erase death in fast fleeting moments. I forget I'm a widower. I forget I'm alone. Until night comes and busyness fades with the day. Then I remember again very well the cause for all this commotion, this upheaval of life. Disruption. No one likes to be stopped mid-conversation with words still left to say. Interrupted and the words left just hanging with no place to land.
There you go. That's the prickly heart of the matter. Life interrupted. Left hanging, suspended and final.
Loneliness is lost. Deeper than companionship so sweet and identifying is the wandering afterward. I wander as I wonder. What of life now? This dark interlude. Does it give way to something better? Some place happier? Will life again ever resemble the day lost? Should it?
I am convinced ever so deeply that it will, but when, where, what and how, require trust and faith that is, in spots, thin.
This is nothing new. I've been lonely since the moment she left. Many steps through treacherous impasses have made me more honest and bare. Being honest about being lonely feels good to me signaling stability and security. Admitting to loneliness for me is saying that I do not know the way, I am searching for place to rest, I need people close to me more now. I am more vulnerable. I am weaker. All signs of greater strength of lasting, guiding value.
Being lonely has never meant being desperate for companionship. That will come just as soon as it again makes sense, and it will, but that is eternally secondary to finding my way now and discovering purpose in loneliness. In loneliness, I find great strength. In solitude, I find solidarity that I've not known before. Because I need it, it is there. Companionship with God. The Author of life littering my path with his graces leading to shelter. Covering me in storms. Finding me in fog. Stabilizing me in turbulence. Allowing me to hide when I need and breathe when I cannot.
A real God finding me amidst real wrong in real life. This is good and unique. Dare I even think it, a blessing.
My prayer is that I always remember the bountifulness of these lonely nights leading me to stronger shelter. One day, probably sooner than later, life will be settled wondrously and clean. Fuller. In that goodness, apart from this loneliness, may I always remember this couch, the silence, the distance and the ringing of questions. For these are the beams of his shelter in which I dwell.