I was invited into the group before I got sick. Once it was clear I couldn’t gad about on my own, the invitations came with more, not less, emphasis. I was unable to join them. So their leader came to me.
He set mason jars of fresh flowers from his garden at my side door, knowing we’d see them on our way back from daily radiation therapy. I slept through it each time, but my oldest daughter, in residence to care for me, woke to his mowing our lawns weekly.
The Wednesday Wanderers are well-acquainted with the inevitable limitations and isolation disease incurs. Disease touches each member, personally through their work with the sick, their own battles or battles loved ones lost. They each understand the helplessness. The hopelessness.
For some reason I still cannot fathom, their grace fixed on me. Somehow, they knew I was sick before medicine concurred. Maybe it was my body bent in pain even after I rose from my knees in the garden. Or the tentative steps I beseeched my cramping legs to take on recommended walks the few blocks I could manage.
They couldn’t help but notice my partner’s truck laden with his, mine and our tools, his stuff and our beloved doggy. It had “One Way: Out” practically printed on its sides. I insisted he leave. I sensed what was coming. And I knew neither of us could survive it together. Our mutual distress tolerance was all used up by nearly a decade of his health struggles. My partner was inexplicably surprised when I sent him away. No one else was.
My neighbor, the WW’s heart and soul, watched without judgment. Two years prior, we had been the neighbors watching and worrying for him, as his beloved fought and lost to cancer. I did too little to help sooth his broken heart and empty days. I pray the other members of WW did all they do to keep his spirits and light burning. They must have. He virtually glows now.
I’m not sure I possess the tenacity or charity to keep inviting someone to ‘get-together’ who keeps politely declining. Maybe he recognized the disappointment in my eyes when I consistently thanked him but had to admit I just wasn’t up to it.
He didn’t stop. “Come to our Wednesday evening gatherings whenever you can. We have one tomorrow. I’ll drive. We’re all in one or another state of decay…no worries. We understand. Just come.”
And so I did, and do whenever my body allows. I go even if discouragement or depression begs me to stay home. I go even when my hair isn’t washed or my clothes are dirty. I am slowly but surely becoming one of the Wednesday Wanderers.