Tales from the house on the hill Part 3: Echo


A tree in the yard of the house on the hill.

Is there a moment so crystallized in your brain that you can hear it, feel it, taste it and smell it? I have one of those. A couple actually and I wish I didn't.

We had lived in the little blue house on the hill for seven months when I got the call.

My husband had been working in Augusta off and on for several weeks. It was early November. It was still surprisingly humid and it had gotten dark outside. I was sitting on the couch, eating a salad and watching a rerun of "The Daily Show" when my husband called.

"I have bad news," he said.

My husband is a little bit of a joker. But the sweet kind. So I expected, "I have bad news, the McRib isn't coming back."

I didn't expect what followed. No one did.

"I have bad news," he said. "My dad died."

Echo.... My dad died.

I had to ask him to repeat himself.

"My dad died."

My husband's father was in his early 60's. He was in pretty good shape. He was a police officer. Well known. Well respected. Well loved. And he had unexpectedly and without warning died.

I could hear in my husband's voice that he- my strong, manly, masculine husband who very seldom shows emotion- was close to breaking.

What do you say? What do you say to comfort the person you love the most in the world? But I had no time to say anything.

"I'm on my way home," he said and then the phone clicked off.

I made four phone calls. I called two of my bosses to let them know I wasn't coming in the rest of the week and I needed to make plans for people to cover my beat and take over my assignments. The news cycle doesn't stop just because your world has fallen in on itself.

I called my parents who prayed with me and my sister who prayed with me and then I sat in the silence of the tiny living room, listening to my own breathing.

What do you say?

For the second time in my life I found myself alone after just having heard that someone I love died. I opened mouth and all that I could think to pray was the first few lines of the Lord's prayer. "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

I once heard "Thy will be done," referred to as the prayer that never fails. And it is. The Lord's will will be done. But it's up to us to accept that will. To understand why has something has happened and what good could possibly come of it.

And there are things we will never understand.

My husband arrived home late on Nov. 8, 2010. We silently packed our bags and headed to South Alabama. We arrived in the wee hours of the morning. And we said little to each other.

I still find it hard to find the words to comfort my husband, almost two years later. I feel at times I messed it up completely. I said the wrong words at the wrong time. I stepped all over myself. But perhaps that's not the point.

Maybe we are not meant to say anything at all. Maybe we are just meant to sit silently next to the person we love and think fondly of those we lost and let the good memories echo.

Next week: A Year Without Christmas

 Part 1

Part 2