At some point before she died, my best friend/sister-in-law told her husband/my brother that she felt I didn’t need her. He told me this after she died, and he didn’t know what she meant. If I said that this has haunted me, that might be an overstatement, but it has been something that my mind has dwelled upon over these past six months. But I think I now know what she meant.
We had an amazing memorial service for her lasting something like four hours. I am writing this at nearly 2:00 AM because only now have I scraped up the courage to watch the DVD of the service. Many stood up and shared their rememberances and thoughts on her. She had a heart for service. She helped people all the time, wherever she was, whatever time it was. She was constantly in motion, always doing things for others. She often dropped by my house, and it never failed that when she was there she wanted to know what she could fix for me. I never wanted to spend my time with her doing chores. I wanted to spend my time with her sitting on the porch, or sitting on the couch, just being with her. It’s true that I did not NEED her in the sense that I depended on her to help me with “things”. But I needed her to just sit on the porch, or on the couch, and just be with me. She didn’t like to be still. She liked to be busy. I don’t think she realized how important those times that she dropped by my house at night and hung out with me were to me. I think that because she wasn’t fixing my toilet, or changing the oil in my car, or rewiring my vacuum cleaner she thought the time could have been spent better. Perhaps she didn’t realize that what I wanted most from her, what was so precious to me even in the smallest doses, was her attention. I could hire people to do all those “tasks” for me, I couldn’t hire someone to talk to me and understand me like she could. I couldn’t hire someone to laugh with like I laughed with her.
Because she was so used to serving, I think it was strange for her to let me do for her. I loved giving her clothes to wear when she needed something nice. I loved listening to her mindlessly mention things she’d like to have and then getting them for her when she didn’t even realize anyone was listening. I loved going to her house and folding her laundry. But I wanted my time with her to be special and not diverted by “tasking”. I didn’t want to be a checkmark on her daily to do list. And perhaps I should have explained that better to her while she was alive.
I’ve said before that I didn’t need her, but I wanted her. And not until tonight did I really understand what I meant.
Addendum: I actually wrote this on the sixth anniversary of her death (January 29th), but didn’t feel like posting it until now. February is a good month. Three out of four years there’s no 29th in it.