My family goes on the hunt for not one, but TWO Christmas trees, each Black Friday. We always go to the same awesome Christmas tree farm owned by our "kinda" neighbors (6 miles a neighbor?), Pete and Shelley, and we head out there with at least 12-15 other family members and friends.
One year, about 5 Christmases ago, we dragged our trees back to the "warming house" and when we went to pay, Pete said, "$35 please." "No, no, we bought TWO trees!" "$35 please." Huh? I looked at Bob, he looked at me, and then he said, "But they are $35 a piece, aren't they?" "Yes, they are. But one has already been bought for you."
Turns out, our friend Chuck works with Pete at the water company and CHUCK, knowing we get our tree from Pete's farm every year, paid for our tree! Is that GREAT or what!!!!! It was such a nice thing to do and I honestly thought it was the neatest surprise I have ever been a party to. I know Bob and Chuck had a great laugh about it. Because, that's what they do. They break each others stones constantly and they laugh together always.
The night before last, Chuck passed away. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 14 months ago and he didn't survive the treatment. My husband is inconsolable and our hearts are indeed broken. His, because he loved Chuck and will never see his close friend again and how awful it is for Chuck's family - mine because I know how much he loved Chuck and that he will never see his close friend again and I can't bear his pain for him.
Chuck was a soft spoken man who loved his family, loved his friends and I never saw him without a smile on his face. He was a working man - still at it, full time, at the age of 71. His children are amazing, his wife Aura is an angel - and he was one of my husband's closest friends.
For 30 years, they got together almost every week and on the weeks they did not get together, they spoke on the phone like two teenage boys, laughing, joking, breaking them off on each other about their opposing sports team alligiances (yessss - Chuck was a Red Sox fan), catching each other up on family and just enjoying their friendship. Chuck had a heart of gold and would do anything for Bob. In fact, I know he would do anything for anyone that needed something he could give.
You would think that I knew Chuck well, but the fact of the matter is, he really belonged to Bob. I know that sounds kind of odd, but they knew each other for over 30 years, long before I came along, and although I spent time with him and his wife, once, maybe twice a year, like I said - they belonged to each other.
I am profoundly sad that he is gone. My heart goes out to his family. My husband is devastated. Yesterday, he grieved about how unfair life is: how there are thousands upon thousands of derelicts in our prisons. Why not them? Why the good guys? Why Chuck? It sucks. It makes no sense. The meek shall inherit the earth?? Righttt. My Chuck was one of the meek. This blows.
After he said that, I looked at him quizzically. I didn't think Chuck was meek! He was soft spoken, but he wasn't shy or tentative and certainly not weak - isn't that what meek meant? But I just listened and afterwards, I decided to look that phrase up. I mean, I had heard it many times in my life, but I had never really understood it or even given it a thought, for that matter. And surprise! It's a passage from the bible. Didn't know that or maybe I knew it and just forgot (as is the case ALOT these days...)
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5.5.
Now, at the risk of ticking a few readers off, we are not church going people and we don't practice an organized religion, but that is not to say we are not good people. And I consider myself very spiritual. We were both raised Roman Catholic and like many, our issues with the church precipitated our "defection". End of that story. Anyway, I have never studied the bible so it's no surprise I
Long story short (I bet my friend Karen is kind of laughing right now), turns out that in order to understand why the meek shall inherit the earth, we need to be sure that we understand what meekness really is.
I found that meekness is not weakness, but rather showing patience and humility. Humility does not mean looking down on oneself or thinking ill of oneself. It really means not thinking of oneself very much at all. Ohhhh....
Yes - that was Bob's Chuck...
So now I understand my husband's expression of anguish. His Chuck, his meek friend, would not be here to inherit the earth. Obviously, this is all theoretical, spoken in a moment of passionate anger by a grief-stricken man. But I do understand now. (And I learned something!)
So where am I going with this sad and somewhat rambling post? Well, not too far. It's very simple. A sweet, loving, (meek if you will) wonderful man has been taken too soon. We are all grieving the loss.
But, I think that even in times of great sorrow and grief, there are things to truly be thankful for. How about the ability to cry? Without it, we would never understand the joy of it's opposite. And as someone reminded me yesterday, our grief is the profound presence of those who are forever absent from our lives.
And what about the joy??
Well no, I'm not feeling much joy right now. Well, actually, not at all. But you know what? In the days ahead, I will be reminded of the JOY of Chuck. Bob will definitely start telling me stories I
that Bob's Chuck will also be smiling.
Rest in Peace, my friend. You will be so missed, by so many. You were truly loved.