Monday, March 30, 2009

On the Surface

Last week, a few blocks from my house, an elderly couple died in their home.  They were prominent business people and livelong residents of our community.  Both graduated from the local high school.  He was 83, and she was 81.  They were very active in our church.  They had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  They had just come back from their winter home in Florida last Monday night.  

The police were summoned to their home overlooking the St. Croix River on Tuesday morning.  Evidently, their daughter and son-in-law had found the couple shot to death in what they believe was a murder-suicide.  They looked like they were sleeping.  

The theory behind this is that the man's health was failing, and his wife had early stage Alztheimer's.  It is believed that the man shot his wife while she was sleeping, and then shot himself.  No other facts about the case are being released.  

This has bothered me all week.  It's one of those things that I push to the back of my mind, but it stays there.  My mind insists on dwelling on it.  

Yesterday in church, our Pastor briefly mentioned the matter.  He is of the opinion that so many of us are preoccupied with the economy and our day-to-day tasks that we don't notice how others might be suffering.  We need to be aware that others may need our help.  

I went out today to run errands.  I actually put my hair up and makeup on.  I watched the people out and about.  I saw an elderly couple at the grocery store pharmacy, sitting on a bench waiting for a prescription to be filled.  They both had canes, and she was telling her husband (I assume) about how she couldn't sleep last night.  He reached out and put his hand on her knee.  I watched them waiting there together at the pharmacy.  

In the frozen food aisle, there was a young couple dawdling over the frozen vegetables.  The man was cracking some sort of joke, and the woman hugged him from behind.  I watched them smiling and hugging while grocery shopping together.  

I can't imagine what it is like to have a soul mate for 60 years.  To have a lifetime of memories and suddenly be facing an uncertain future.  Did they not want to live without each other?  Was one of them suffering more than anyone else knew?  Why would someone do this?  

We only know what we see on the surface.  What goes on inside the houses with the manicured yards?  What is going on in the mind of a person as they are celebrating 60 years of marriage?  What causes people to snap and do the unthinkable?  We may never know.  

And what lesson is to be learned from all of this?  I haven't got a clue.  

A man and a woman shared a life for 60 years and it ended tragically in a beautiful home overlooking the St. Croix River.  Whatever burdens they were carrying are gone now.  New burdens have been put into place for the loved ones they left behind.  I want to believe that a great love was the cause of this act.   

Life, for the rest of us, goes on.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  We go about our lives.  And I hope, wherever this couple is now, that they are together free from the troubles of this life.  

"Oh my, justifying reasons why is an absolutely insane resolution to live by . . . And oh, let's take it easy and celebrate the malleable reality because nothing is ever as it seems, this life is but a dream.  Live high, live mighty, life righteously."  Lyrics from "Live High" by Jason Mraz  

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