It’s funny how death hits you. Or how it doesn’t.
Certain people pass on and you almost don’t realize it.
Some people don’t even have to pass on for you to recognize the sharpness of losing them to death.
I don’t actually know that he is dead, the one who prompted these thoughts, but he was so old when I last saw him a few years ago that I can only assume he is close to death, if not already there. It may sound silly, but I don’t remember his name. I remember him being an admirable figure and I remember eating lunch at his home on a few Sundays after church. He asked us every Sunday I was in town to lunch, we finally had to start declining. His home was dominated by two things, the dining table with all the leaves added that commanded the back half of the house and the bookshelves that towered over the front half of the house. Fellowship and study, that was the simplicity of his life, and the inspiration of his life as well.
I haven’t seen him in years, haven’t thought of him in almost as long. I can’t really fathom why it is he came to mind now. It may have nothing to do with him, as much as it is other more stark and significant memories so closely related to him that were meant to be stirred. Still, the memories came in the form of him, of all things. And I mourned at the thought. He was small and delicate of a man, but only in appearance. His wife was too, shriveled up behind the steering wheel until he started to ask us to drive her home, if he had to stay at the Church later to help with his deacon-ly business. He still served, even at that age. I remember distinctly that he was fast. We always found humor in that. We would see him across the room grinning, and within moments, the figure that you might expect to hobble over in a painstaking amount of time, was by our sides to greet us.
I hope he and his wife passed together, at least relatively so. They were still young love birds with each other, flitting and flirting as well as any of the (few) teenagers in the back pews. Ben Fold’s song “The Luckiest” comes to mind. And I wish that upon them more than I have ever sentimentalized the wish for myself.
I feel like this is something I have to reckon with. And that doesn’t make sense to me. For all I know he is still alive and kickin’. If he was, I wouldn’t see him before he did die. I don’t really have the desire to eat another lunch at his house or be surprised by his swiftness. But…there is a part of me that misses him nonetheless. There is a part of me that mourns that loss. He is as good as dead to me now, someone I have no connection to anymore or no rationale means of contact, so if he had truly died, it shouldn’t bother me so. But it does. Not in a troublesome way but in an deep-down, achy, mournful way.
I’m sure by the morning this feeling will be gone, but I don’t think that means it was less real.
I’ll remember him for his hymnbooks and for limp, pale green beans.
Though not distinctly, I’ll remember.