Chelsea Kolz Boes is a wonderful writer. I loved her latest article – not because she’s so mushy – but because of how she relates her life to the Word of God. The following was taken from her. Enjoy.
Taken from: WORLD | A widow’s reminder | Chelsea Kolz Boes | Jan. 22, 2015.
I’ve started thinking about Barbara again—because I’m starting to feel like her. I knew the old woman summers ago, when I used to sit in her huge, creaking house and keep her and her husband, Jim, company as part of an after-school initiative to connect kids with the elderly.
Added together, their ages nearly reached 200. Jim was unwell—missing a leg, eyes degenerating, hearing slow. Barbara circled him like an avid bird. She changed the position of his wheelchair. She waited on him, carrying cups of tea in from the kitchen and portioning out dinners from the Meals on Wheels containers. She applied the clumsy prosthesis to his stump knee with infinite patience, always smiling. Sickness and health, she was happy just to be with her Jim.
Jim and Barbara never had children, and they thought of me as an adopted grandchild. I didn’t feel like I deserved this distinction, since I’d done nothing but show up in their living room once a month, sit in a chair overgrown with cat hair, and surf with them through the long silences.
Jim died after my first summer with them, shortly before Easter. Not knowing that Jim was gone, my mother and I pulled into their driveway to make a lightning-quick visit. Barbara approached us from the house, her blue eyes looking like a sea had flowed through them. She wrapped her arms around my neck, and said, “Oh, I miss him. But tomorrow we will go to church and celebrate the one who gives”—she paused, her early dementia robbing her for a moment the words she sought—“eternal life.”
During my second college summer I returned to Barbara’s house to take care of her. She paid me to help her sort through the big house—an impossible task. Barbara wore her widowhood with grace. But she was very much a widow. I remember one morning making her bed and finding one of Jim’s holey T-shirts hidden under the covers, deducing that she had been sleeping with it. I was 20 by then and had come freshly from a romantic heartbreak myself. But I knew I couldn’t understand Barbara’s pain. She told me, “I just—I got used to him.”
This week I’m taking my first work trip away from my husband—compared to Barbara’s widowhood, a raindrop in the sea. As soon as I decided to go, I began imagining Jonathan and me like two pins in a map. How far had we traveled apart from each other, even in the time before our acquaintance? For we, I increasingly feel, constitute more than our combined parts. Something invisible and mighty links us. As I write, I haven’t even said good-bye yet. But I’ve already cried five times.
I chuckle at myself for this. But I’m pretty sure I’ll start blubbering again when I flip on the playlist Jonathan compiled for my trip. And I keep thinking of Barbara. Is it any wonder James called pure and undefiled religion the visiting of the widow?