The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Missing You

It’s a good turnout for a morning Mass service at the Irish church on the top of the hill. Though, as usual, I am the only person under 40…perhaps the only under 50. I’m accustomed to these demographics, though. Everyone is spread out through the center of the church. Like a teacher walking past the empty desks in the front rows, our priest has to walk half-way down the aisle to give the homily. I’m delighted to smile at my fellow churchgoers when we wish each other “Peace.” Few people are close enough to shake hands, so we wave across the rows. We turn forward and back, making eye contact and holding up two fingers in the V of peace, like tourists in front of a landmark.

An older man with his flannel shirt tucked into his jeans greets his neighbors and gives the peace sign off to an unaccompanied spot on his right. He nods where no one sits. He pats the empty railing next to his hand–missing someone, feeling a presence, paying a tribute to one who used to sit so close. I notice how he prays with his shoulder turned slightly toward the vacant place at his side, and I really do wish him peace.

–Vermont
churches in vermont

8 comments on “Missing You

  1. davecenker
    May 27, 2015

    Sometimes, we can only discern the presence of one thing through the absence of another. The desire for peace becomes so much more omnipresent when we witness that silent pain of separation. A beautiful image and poignant reminder to turn our shoulders inward towards that physical presence while it still exists in this world. Thank you Paige, I always appreciate your insightful thoughts.

    • Thank you again for all the kindness and comments, Dave! It’s so lovely to read your reflections on the work–and encouraging too. I truly appreciate it.
      Paige

  2. joannerambling
    May 27, 2015

    I like the picture you paint with your words

  3. Maccabros
    May 27, 2015

    Wonderful words and another earworm for us – Missing you from John Waite…:)

    liebe Grüße

    Maccabros

  4. Ellen Morris Prewitt
    June 1, 2015

    How much we see when we look–thank you for caring enough to look and for sharing what you see.

    • 🙂 Thank you so much, Ellen! Later in the week, I visited with this man. I didn’t ask him about the story, but just learned more about his life. Pretty remarkable!
      Paige

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