“Honey, you ain’t been to a funeral until you’ve been to one with 3 ex-wives,” is not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d here in my life. But, here I was, in the trailer home of an 84-year-old woman who spoke “her damn mind.” She was, of course, referring to her ex-husband number 2, who left her for one of her girlfriends they met in a Camping Club. “The girl didn’t even like camping,” she retorted, “but she had the best camper, so we invited her.”
At the funeral, the husband’s first ex-wife came up to Anne and said to the woman on her arm, “This is the broad who stole my husband.”
“I didn’t steal your husband; he came running.”
A lot of what Anne told me yesterday has stuck with me, but perhaps the thing that’s stuck with me the hardest is something I say all too frequently: If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. But she added to it, saying, “People will laugh with you, but they won’t cry with you.”
Who are you going to cry with today? Who are you going to support in their difficulties? Who are you going to sit with when they need it most?
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all the people who cry with me. We’re not meant to suffer in silence.
Anne sure doesn’t. Well, when she’s around people, that is. She spends most of her time alone in her trailer, with her books and her cat statues, and her real-life cat, Bella. She doesn’t want it to be this way; she wants to be able to help her neighbor who had breast cancer, whose radiation destroyed her hip bone, whose husband died on the road in front of her house. “She couldn’t even be there because she couldn’t get out of the house, and I so badly want to help her, but I can’t,” she said tearfully, rubbing her right knee, aching with arthritis.
“I can’t help my oldest son, and he can’t help me because he has COPD, and his two brothers live out of state.”
As we said our goodbyes, we prayed with her. She told my friend that introduced us that “she must be a pipeline to God because nothing hurts when they’re done praying.”
Nothing hurts when we’re done praying.
As we pulled out of the trailer park, my friend said to me, “It’s sad, isn’t it? Most people wouldn’t want to come here, but there are amazing people living right in our neighborhood that we would never choose to interact with because they seem different from us. But this. This is what it means to love your neighbor.”
Love your neighbor who’s different from you. Love your neighbor who’s struggling. Love your neighbor.
Love like Anne does: she loved her ex-husband so much, she went to his funeral, despite the two other ex-wives.