This morning I was the opening cashier at our local Winn-Dixie grocery store. This little part-time job has been a great experience for many reasons, one of which is my interaction with total strangers, unique individuals, almost always ready to share a bit of their day with me.
It’s been like that all of my life. Folks just feel noticed I think. I see them. I listen. I laugh. And sometimes, like today, I shed a tear for a soul in pain when I don’t even know their name.
It was still early. The skies were gray. I wondered when the rain would arrive. The clouds assured me it would soon be there.
An elderly man approached my register to pay for his purchase. He was a big man, tall with thick gray hair and a sad countenance. He only had one item, a single long-stemmed rose. It was beautiful and I told him so.
“I’m taking it to my wife,” he explained. “I mean, I’m taking it to her grave.”
My normally cheerful smile faded as I saw the pain etched into every line of his weathered face. He must have been a very handsome man in his youth.
“I’m sorry.” I said the only thing I could say.
“Today would have been our 55th anniversary and she’s been gone for four months.” He wiped at the tears that spilled onto his cheeks and I swallowed hard, attempting to blink back my own tears.
I told him I would pray for him. I helped him to a cup of coffee. I didn’t hug him, although I was sorely tempted to do so.
Even now as I write these words, my chest is tight, my heart hurts and I whisper a prayer for this man who loved his wife so dearly and misses her so much.
Y’all, it wasn’t long after he left, probably about the time he arrived at the cemetery that the sky opened up and a deluge began. It was raining so hard, that I couldn’t see the cars in the parking lot for a few moments.
I’ll never be able to prove it, but I believe the skies were expressing his grief, his pain. I know this, I know God was aware of his tears just as He is aware of yours and mine. I know God cares and I know He is well acquainted with grief.
For the rest of my shift, I found myself wondering about him. How would he spend the rest of this day, his first without his wife after 55 years of being together? I prayed for comfort and peace.
I know such days must come. I know that being blessed with great love makes you vulnerable to great pain. And I know this. It is worth every tear, even when they fall like rain.