I still remember a nightmare that I had as a young boy. In my dream, I was in the woods behind my childhood home, and a monster was chasing me. Terrified, I ran home and burst through the door of my house. To my horror, it was empty. No mom or dad, no brother, no furniture, nothing. As an eerie wind blew threw the open windows, I realized that my home had become just an empty, vacant building. I ran next door to where my grandparents lived, and found the same thing. I was utterly and completely alone. And the monster was still coming...
In 2010 my mom passed away after a long illness. Less than a year later, as it seemed life was getting back to normal, my dad was stricken with a rapidly spreading cancer, and he died in 2011. Stunned and ill prepared for this reality, my brother and I began the long, slow process of disposing of our parents' property and preparing our childhood home for sale.
One day I was working at the house, and as the wind blew through open windows across an empty floor, it hit me. This was the moment from my dream! The house was empty. Parents, gone. Grandparents, gone. At the tender young age of 50, I realized that I was an orphan. And I felt utterly and completely...alone.
Except.. I'm not alone. In the years since my nightmare, God has brought so many people into my life. My wife; my sons; my daughters-in-law; my grandchildren; I have relatives, friends, coworkers, band mates.. and the list goes on and on. Most of these people existed only in God's imagination when I had my nightmare, but I believe even then He was already planning on how He would weave us into each others' lives. And while I still mourn those I have lost; sometimes with an ache so deep it is physical; I am thankful for all of those people who have moved into that void and enriched my life.
I'm writing this on Thanksgiving morning. My amazing wife Lynn is busy preparing the Thanksgiving meal, and intoxicating smells are already filling the house. In a couple of hours our tiny house will be overflowing with family and friends and we'll celebrate. Our modern day lives are much easier than those of the Pilgrims who started this tradition; but it has been a year of struggles. We've been through a lot, and who knows what next year will bring? But come what may, we'll be there for each other. And we'll be thankful.
So, will I still be lonely sometimes? Sure, aren't we all? But I'll never be alone.