One night, it was very late; but as usual Charlotte was awake, and I could hear her rummaging around up in her room. I decided to go up and see if I could help her in some way. I opened her door, and peeked in. She looked at me and smiled “Come on in, and sit down, do you have time to visit?” All the rest of the folks were settled in for the night, so I said yes. I came in and sat down on the edge of her bed. We talked for quite a while, then she went to a subject she had never spoken of before.
“I often wish I had known the mistakes and harm I did many times when as a pastor’s wife I would try to counsel or comfort the women in our churches who became widow’s. I thought I was giving wonderful advice, and being a great comfort to them, but over the years as I looked back and remembered the smug remarks, and flippant attitude I had; I realize now how much my “wonderful counseling approach” was nothing but empty platitudes. How it must have added to their heavy hearts; when they were already carrying deep scars of grief.
It took my losing my own husband when he died of a heart attack, before I came to realize the harm my arrogance, and self assuredness had probably done. I’ve had to ask the Lord to forgive me, and hope those women found it in their hearts to forgive me too.”
As I listened to her, my own situation came to mind. I was watching my husband decline again rapidly in the past several years. He had a heart attack, but had lived a long time on medications, and did well for a long time, but his heart had suffered more damage, and the doctor’s had told us he could not survive surgery. His options were few, and we both knew he may not have much longer to live. It had been a long hard battle for him over the past 23 years since his first heart attack. Her relaying this to me was like a look into my future. She did not realize the impact her sharing this had on me, and I never told her. But, I looked at her and said “God is much more understanding, and forgiving of our blindness than we can imagine. I am sure He has forgiven you. Thank you for sharing this with me.”
Life is ironic at times. My husband died in July of 2004, and Charlotte died only a few months later in September of the same year. I was one of the last people to see her before she passed away. We embraced as she laid in ICU, hooked up to the life support monitors, and her face was beaming with joy; because she was ready to go home to heaven, and said so. Her weak, small hand reached up to touch mine, with what strength she had she gestured me to come closer to her. I leaned down and she said, “You will be the last widow I get to give comfort to. Just let God know your heartaches; He is big enough to handle your sorrows, and He will never run out of love for you. People may not understand, but He does, depend on Him. Remember, I’ll see you soon.”
We embraced; while the monitors continued to hum and click around us, I had a hard time opening my eyes; they had filled with tears. But, I looked into her beaming eyes, and said “When you get there, tell Lynn I love him, and yes, I will see you soon.” I knew she was very weak, and I had to go. I looked behind me at her laying there alone, one more time, knowing it would be the last time we saw one another in this life. I said a silent prayer that God would take her quickly, (which He did within 24hrs.). She is safe at home now.