Love is inconvenient

My little round table perches in the center of a coffee shop. People flow around me while I write. Overhead, Coldplay starts to sing, and I start to cry.

My wife, Sheree, loved Coldplay. I bought all their CDs for her. Three cords into ‘O’ and the years rewind. I’m home again. The French doors are open, and white lace curtains waltz and twirl with the breeze. Late afternoon sunshine pours rivers of gold on the hardwood floors. Sheree is singing in the kitchen.

At her feet lies a Neapolitan mastiff that outweighs her by thirty pounds. All wrinkles and sags, the giant dog melts on the floor. Sheree’s making bread for our neighbors. Flour blows across the counter, but she doesn’t care; she’s lost in her music. Head tilted back, blonde hair alive, she swings her hips, and the whole neighborhood rings. She could sing.

Now, the curtains hang limp. The sun has set, and our house fills with darkness. In the silence, echoes of her voice walk the empty halls. It’s the same awful silence where my heart used to beat.

My sister flew down the day after Sheree died. She stayed for weeks. Mom came shortly after and spent months helping me sort through candles, pillowcases, and hand painted glassware. I couldn’t touch the clothes, and it was six months before I could put away those little sparkly pink and white tennis shoes beside my bed.

Mom’s plants died; her projects and commitments had to be cancelled. My sister spent her bonus money from work and used all her vacation to come. My friends Tracey and Michael insisted we stay at their place. I can’t imagine how terribly inconvenient it was for all of them. Yet … if it weren’t for them I don’t know how I would have survived.

Love is inconvenient. I used to get so frustrated when people interrupted my plans. I forgot that help isn’t about a thing that needs to be done, it’s about the soul that needs it. It’s not that my interrupted goals aren’t important, it’s that one day they’ll all suddenly stop, whether I’m ready or not. And as important as they were to me, they’ll probably end up in the trash or on the shelves at Goodwill. Souls, on the other hand, are eternal.

I need to be careful weighing my busyness against someone’s need. People hide their pain, and it’s hard to know when they badly need help. Love costs precious time. Sometimes it costs money. I’ll lose sleep and skip meals. But if I’m willing to be inconvenienced, I’ll soon forget about that meal I missed or the late night spent listening. But I may have saved a life – and that person will never forget. Never.