I wrote a post, Neighbors in Limington: The Ice Storm, talking about how I grew up with a real sense of community and how that was displayed during a particular event: a severe ice storm. It got me thinking about some other times that I remember seeing this sense of community growing up. I would say the most difficult but moving time our little Limington community came together is when one of the parents was diagnosed with cancer.
My best friend’s dad was diagnosed with cancer, my friend was only 16 at the time. I can’t imagine how this felt to him. He and I were best friends, and his dad had been my dad’s closest friend since we moved to the neighborhood eight or so years earlier. They had rebuilt several motors together and put countless vehicles back on the road for other friends and family members, if one lacked a tool, the other would have it. If the other wasn’t home it didn’t matter, just take the tool and I’ll know where it is if I need it. That was the relationship. Our families truly shared a life.
After my friend’s dad left work due to the cancer I remember he would do things like pick me up from school if I was sick or take us all to the beach during the summer or whatever. He acted like he was out of work to be there for all us kids, not because he was in the slow process of dying. That was the kind of man he was. I remember he took us all on a big camping trip not long before he passed. He looked physically awful but he seemed really happy to be taking us all camping, to see his kids and their friends having a good time.
Soon the cancer spread and he ultimately lost the fight. I remember that he wanted to be home for his last days. They had him in a bed in the family’s living room. When I went over to see him, all the people from the neighborhood were there. They were always there, they would come and go but it seemed like for those few days that there were always “family” members from the little community there to comfort him and his family.
His funeral was very nice. It was held at a nice funeral home up the street that overlooked the mountains. All the people from our community were there and all were clearly, deeply affected by the loss. He was a good man, he loved his family and his community, he impacted my life significantly, and it was clear that I was not the only one he had reached out to help. It was amazing to see our community reach out to his family to comfort them and share in their loss. it was like we were all one big family and we had all lost a dad or a brother.
I don’t hope that people I love will die, but I do hope that when those among the believers I share a life with do pass away that we will all gather together as a family, all feeling deeply saddened for our loss, comforting and encouraging that person’s family, praising God for his work through that person, and rejoicing together knowing that person is now in paradise.