This is part two of the series “A Rare Gift.” For part one, go here:
When I was living in Seattle, my mother told me about a man from my hometown who was coming to live there for a few months. Curtis was his name. His wife Susan (probably early to mid-20s, the sister of a high school friend of mine) had leukemia and was being placed in the Fred Hutchinson Center near Lake Union. Curtis, his mother-in-law and child would be renting an apartment near the center.
When Curtis arrived, I called and invited him to dinner. He was a nice guy, though emotionally distraught. After that, I invited him to church and to several meals. He attended a Pentecostal church in my hometown.
I knew this family in Seattle, the Linds. The parents, Laura and Henrik, were like surrogate parents to me during my time there. I went over at least twice a week for dinner. Played board games with the two daughters, Anna and Amy. When I told them about Curtis, Laura insisted he come to dinner.
Laura has a unique gift. She listens to people. I mean, really listens. She gets close to the other person, space-wise, and keeps her eyes locked on his, chewing on every word he says. While we sat at the table, she engaged Curtis in conversation, asking him how he was doing, how his wife was feeling—the struggles, the pain. He opened up to Laura as if he’d known her all his life.
He’d been putting the blame upon himself for not having enough faith. He’d doubted; and what he heard from those around him was if he believed hard enough, Susan would get well. Laura started crying. She told him it wasn’t true, that he didn’t dare blame himself. She asked if she could pray for him. He said yes, and cried the entire time she was doing so.
A month later, Susan was released from the hospital and the family went back to Tennessee. He sent me a letter, thanking me for the friendship I’d given him during his time in Seattle. But I never saw him again. Susan passed away the next year.
Some questions we will never answer in this lifetime. I remember Walter’s words. “People ask if I’m angry my wife was taken from me. I tell them no. It wasn’t fair, but she gave me the best years of my life.”
She was a gift to him. He sees it that way and is able to appreciate it.