I'm not sure if I ran a red light on my way back from Walmart today or not. I blame my not knowing because I was concentrating on news I'd just received from the cashier.
Lara and I knew each other years ago when we attended the same church. Her husband taught our adult Sunday School. Bert made the Old Testament come alive for me in a way no one else had ever been able to do. We ran into him at the county fair last September days after moving home to PA. He convinced us in is salesman-like way to register to vote and reminded us how much God loved us.
I'd heard he'd fallen ill. Through the grapevine, you know. But I never heard of what or how he was. That's usually the case with the grapevine. You hear part and then never the ending.
Today I found myself in his wife's line. I knew she worked two jobs, and at our age working as a cashier at Walmart is no picnic. I studied her appearance and concluded she looked worn.
When it was my turn, I asked about Bert.
"He has a terminal brain tumor."
I wished I'd had a larger order so we could talk. She told me he's aged thirty years but she was fine. Even though she lost her other job recently.
"If I can help in any way," I said. You know how we say stuff that doesn't hold weight sometimes? I wished for a stronger reach.
Then I knew what I had to say. "We love both of you."
Yes, I had loved them twelve, maybe fifteen years ago. Our children had grown up together. We were Christians. We shared many memories.
Maybe telling her that was enough. I know the interaction left me reeling. Wishing I had known and had even sent a card a few months ago when I first found out Bart had passed out in church. I remember the fleeting thought. I remember my excuse too.
Next time God whispers in my ear, I'm going to listen better.