I learned a lesson from Larry. I didn't know him and I still don't, but I wished I had taken the time to get to know him better before he walked out of my life. For Larry was reaching out to me and my husband and we didn't know how to respond.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were shopping at Trader Joe's (a small specialty grocery store). Half way through the store we were at the back of the store where they offer free coffee samples. We were tasting our mini cups of coffee when this man came up and tried to strike up a conversation with both of us. He asked us if we liked the coffee and we made small talk for a few seconds.
Moments later we were at the refrigerated cheese case, the same man boldly again came up and asked us if workout at a certain local gym. We said we both go to the gym regularly, but not the one he mentioned. He mentioned that my husband had on an exercise shirt (Under Armor), looked familiar and his hair was a "military" cut...so maybe my husband was former military (like him)? Well, since my sons ARE in the military, we got to talking with him. We found out his name was "Larry".
Larry was a pleasant (and obviously friendly) man (and in good shape for being 57 years old). We learned what he did in the US Army back in the day, explained what our sons are doing now in the Army and Air Force, etc. We learned his only son is only 2 years older than our youngest...and they both went to high school together. Perhaps they know of each other? We talked about exercising and staying healthy. Then Larry dropped the BOMB on us!!!!
Larry has been alone for 6 weeks. His wife passed away suddenly after being ill (undiagnosed) for a month. He brought out a picture of this beautiful blond woman that was only 52 years old. It was an obituary card of her life. My heart sank and broke at the same time. He said they had been married happily for 32 years. Suddenly she (her name was Patty) was gone! When he came home from work, he found her on the bed and she had died there. It turns out she lost lots of weight, felt like she had acid-reflux and no energy. Larry's wife Patty passed away from a heart related issue. Suddenly, this man has his life pulled out from under him! It was so overwhelming and quite shocking to hear.
I felt awkward pain and sadness at the same time. What do you do when some kind and friendly who is obviously reaching out tells you something like this...plus you don't even know him???
After another 15 minutes of talking, we said bye, it was nice to meet you--you are in our prayers. My husband and I for days, even off and on for the last couple of weeks have felt we should have DONE something for Larry. He was reaching out and needing a friend. Should we have invited a stranger over for a beer, a home-cooked meal, an ice tea? What would you have done? I feel horrible that the opportunity to be there for someone is now gone.
I feel now I should have done something for this sad and lonely person. However, HE did something for me. He taught me the lesson to stop taking life for granted. Live each day to its fullest. It was so good that my husband and I experienced this TOGETHER...because this month we celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary!
Thank you Larry! Thank you for the gift of loving each day to its fullest--we don't know how much time we have on this earth. I'll keep looking for you in Trader Joe's grocery store...because my husband and I have a home-cooked meal waiting for you. We'd love to have the pleasure of your company one day...