NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, April 23rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Y’know, it’s the little things in life. How many times have you heard that? Well, when you hear what Kim Henderson has to say, pretty sure you’ll not forget.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: The year my friend Lisa turned 46, she had a new box to check on her tax return. It was the one that reads “qualifying widow with dependent child.”
Through the years we have shared mud pies, Maybelline mascara, and maid of honor duties. Two months after the funeral, we shared a plate of Memphis barbeque.
I notice her eyes look a little less bright. Watching your husband die can affect your vision that way.
As the waitress fills our water glasses, we talk of 401(k)s and how her mother calls three times a day. There are new responsibilities.
“I almost forgot the flute payment,” she admits, adding that her daughter’s grades have slipped a bit. She had a good excuse, but the new Mom/Dad combo sitting across from me isn’t sympathetic. She’s thinking about college, and college costs. I can tell she’s going to be tough.
There were moments that made her that way, like when she got the pain patches at Target, and the pharmacist mentioned hospice. Before he was on hospice. It hurt.
Then there was the trip to M.D. Anderson and the long trip back. Then, it was what she describes as an epiphany that happened at another restaurant.
“I saw the empty chair across from me and tried to remember what he looked like when he was eating. I couldn’t conjure up anything.”
She shakes her head and asks me—asks herself—a question.
“I mean, did we really rush through 23 years of meals, and I never even took the time to look at him while he ate?”
Her less-bright eyes gaze long at the lunch-hour traffic outside. I scramble for right words. We move on to in-laws.
She gets it that she and the granddaughter are their only connection to their son. Them and his truck. Seems her father-in-law couldn’t help himself when she put the “For Sale” sign in the window.
More than once she insists there’s nothing to complain about. She’ll be able keep the house. Her rock-solid faith in the truth of Romans 8:28—that because she is His, God is working all things together for good—is keeping her sane.
But there’s plenty to do as she settles into the new normal. She’s already had a roof leak to deal with, and an AC problem. It took forever to get the death certificate. Locking up at night—he always took care of that.
“Having his phone turned off was the hardest thing so far,” she tells me. “I tortured myself by listening to his voicemail greeting.”
We sit silent a while. The waitress returns—again—so we leave a tip and a few bites of barbeque behind. I watch Lisa drive away in the car she’s learning to monitor for oil changes.
Mine, with gauges I never look at, cranks as always. There are miles to go between here and home, and I resolve to do something when I get there: Watch my husband eat.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.