Melinda Eye Cooper
Six Feet Apart
Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?
Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
These are crazy social distancing times we’re living in at the moment. The stores have signs on the floor, outside on the sidewalk, and there seem to be reminders all over the place that we need to stay at least 6 feet apart.
I can’t see one of the signs about social distancing without being reminded of a woman I saw a while back, lying on the ground in a local cemetery. She, too, must stay 6-feet apart from someone but it’s way harder than social distancing.
I drive by the cemetery every day on my way home from work. Recently, I glanced over and saw a woman lying on the ground. I did a double take – yes. She was wearing shorts, lying flat on her back, beside a grave, staring up at the sky.
What in the world?
Maybe she’s trying out a spot? You know, lying on the ground, wondering what it would be like to lay there for eternity. Or maybe she’s in deep grief.
I thought of her all evening and mentioned the strange event to my husband.
Then a couple days later, again I saw her in the graveyard. Sitting in the same spot, patting the grass near her. My heart ached and I felt an urge to go talk to her.
No. Too personal. She’ll think I’m crazy. Yet, again, I thought of her throughout the evening. Who has died she loved so much? A spouse? A parent? A child?
A few days later, I saw her again. I slowed down and almost pulled in but kept driving as my mind raced. I thought of turning around several times but instead, dialed my sister when I pulled into my driveway. It’s been four years since she lost her son, Brandon.
“You should talk to her,” she advised when I explained my plight of wanting to stop but not wanting to intrude on her personal grief. “I always wanted to talk about Brandon. She won’t think you’re crazy.”
I swallowed. “Okay, I’m going back.” I turned around in my driveway and headed back to the cemetery. I prayed for God to give me words. How do I even approach this woman? Maybe she’ll be gone by the time I get there and I can avoid this altogether but still get brownie points with God for making an effort.
I pulled into the cemetery and drove around the big circle. She was sitting inside her vehicle by this time staring at her cell phone with her window cracked. I pulled up beside her and rolled down the passenger side window not sure what she’d think about my stopping with social distancing and all.
“I’ve noticed you in the graveyard a lot lately.”
She nodded and stepped out of her vehicle. I discovered she’d lost her oldest son, Austin. He’d passed away from a pulmonary embolism. He was twenty-one years old and it was the eight-month anniversary of his death. As we talked, she shared a couple of photos of him.
She had a blister worn on her hand from trimming the grass on his grave with a pair of scissors.
She told me the story of how he died. I’m sure she’s told it a hundred times but to me it was new and fresh and awful. She misses him terribly.
God knows what we’re going through. He knows about every spilled tear and when we’re consumed with waves of deep grief. He knows our every thought and inclination. He knows when we need someone to stop and talk to us. He will bring others into our path to remind us He knows and cares about what we’re going through.
While some are trying to stay at least 6-feet apart because of a virus. He knows some are staying 6-feet apart because of death. The separation isn’t forever.
One day, a precious grieving mother will hold her beloved son in her arms once more. Never to be 6-feet apart again.
Until then, he’s always in her heart.
In honor of a devoted, loving mother and a precious son gone too soon.