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Not so awkward silence
Is there anybody out there? #3
This blog continues on the series ‘Is there anybody out there?” Feel free to read the previous chapters here
You have been neighbours for twenty years. You noticed something was up, and you had plucked up the courage to go and visit your neighbour Molly.
“It was a heart attack. One minute we were talking, and the next he was on the floor. He died instantly.”
“Gee” you say. “Was there any warning?”
“Oh he had been making noises to go for a bit of a check up at his doctor. In fact he had been going on for years, but he never got round to it. I suppose it is a bit late now.”
Now your natural urge would be to say something like “Gee we should all get checked” or maybe “at least you had all those years.” But as you look at Molly, the last thing she needs is any ‘at least’ statements. What she needs is a friend. And then it hits you, Molly is in unchartered territory, and what you say next will be a ‘make or break’ moment. If it is the right thing it will make for further conversation, if it is wrong, it will shut it down.
You remember it is out of care for Molly, you made the effort in the first place. “I am really sorry, Molly. Tell me what it was like, that moment when he fell to the floor.”
“It was awful. I did not need the ambulance to tell me. I already knew this was it.”
“I am not really sure what to say or be at the moment Molly. Just know I suppose, that I am here. I don’t have any answers, any fixes. But what I do have is a couple of listening ears, and time.”
The awkward silence continues. You wonder whether you have blown it. “Have I said too much?”
Then after a while Molly breaks the silence. “You know, it is lovely that you have taken the time to reach out. It has been awful since he died, really lonely. I have been craving some human interaction, and here you are. Please stay.”
Your heart melts. Any retreat from this situation has now evaporated. Your vulnerability has opened Molly up, and perhaps, maybe she wants to share further, even deeper.
“Thank you Molly. I want to be here with you. We have known each other for a long time now, but not really. If it is OK, what is a special memory you have?”
Molly thinks for a while. “Oh when each of our children came along. It was great he was there, and he tried his best to be a good Dad. But then the children all grew up and left. We remember after the last wedding, walking back into the house, and just looking at each other, and thinking “What now?” But after time we were able to work it out. We started some new traditions. A walk on the beach every Sunday Morning, coffee at ‘our spot.’ It felt a little like when we first met. Exciting, but deeper somehow. We had not looked at each other ‘that way’ in a long time, and it was kind of nice.”
You smile. “It is wonderful to hear your memories. That sounds wonderful.”
Molly replies “It is so wonderful to have someone to talk to. It really is. In fact was thinking, I might just drive down to the spot now. I might go alone if that is OK. I need to start living again, it is what he would have wanted. I would want to catch up again, maybe once a week?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful, I have appreciated you opening up to me. Yes let’s make it weekly.”
And as you leave the front yard, you feel wonderful and honoured to be in such a privileged place, and you are kind of looking forward to the next time. “Yes, weekly will be good, as I do need to do other things. But in those times with Molly, it will be all about her.”
Behind you hear the sound of a roller door opening. You turn around and see Molly smiling, as she gives you a wave.
This commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.