It’s been four months since Anna died from the virus, but Joe’s heartbreak and depression have never passed. They wouldn’t even let him say goodbye to his wife of twenty years. It took two weeks of misery for her to succumb, mostly spent on her stomach hooked up to a ventilator. He wondered whether anybody tried to comfort her as she died.
Joe has had a tough time coping with the loss. Through all their ups and downs, Anna was always there for him. But now that she’s gone his life seems pointless. He’s been missing work and neglecting his health and wellbeing. As Christmas approaches, Joe is falling deeper into a funk. They never had children, but Christmas was always a special time for the two of them and without her it’s so depressing, especially dealing with all the hype.
Joe thinks that the virus might have something to do with it, but other than being bombarded with marketing messages pushing buy, buy, buy, it really doesn’t feel much like Christmas. Joe has drifted away from the church, but where are the spiritual elements this year? He has yet to hear anything about Jesus, wisemen, or just anything else dealing with the actual basis for Christmas. It’s all about taking advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the other deal days.
It still doesn’t feel right climbing into the empty bed. He hated Anna’s snoring but God, he misses it now. He tosses and turns for hours before falling into fitful sleep. Thus, he is lying there when the bedroom door opens. There Anna is. He jumps out of bed and gives her a huge bear hug and says in her ear, “I’ve missed you so much. I love you so much, and it’s great that you are back.”
“Yes, I missed and love you too. But you haven’t moved on. You’ve cut yourself off from the world.”
“I can’t handle it. I need you here with me.”
“No, you don’t. You have great friends and coworkers that care about you. Let me see your phone.”
Joe leads Anna to the kitchen, picks up his cell phone from the counter, and then hands it to her.
“You have your ringtone and notification volumes turned down. Look here, there’s all these messages, missed calls, and voice mails. All these people want to talk, and you’ve shut them out.”
“I just can’t deal with them now.”
“You also aren’t answering the door. There are papers piled up and even a casserole out there that somebody left for you. I appreciate that you miss me but it’s time to move on.”
“Take my hand.”
Instantly they are standing among volunteers loading boxes of food into cars. Joe sees appreciation on the faces of the adults and kids as they accepted the free food.
“They could really use more help here, look at the long lines.”
Joe then finds himself with Anna in a soup kitchen. There is a lengthy line of down and out men, women and kids wearing face masks in a food line. Volunteers are scooping food onto their plates.
“You have your health and there’s money set aside. Most of these people lost their jobs and homes. You could help here.” Anna suggests.
“Hmm, I don’t know.”
“Hold on.” Anna tightens her grip on Joe’s hand.
They find themselves back in the house and Anna guides him into the bedroom. “I only have this one night with you so let’s make the most of it.”
The next morning Anna is gone when Joe wakes up with a smile on his face. He hates that Anna is gone, but he feels great. He takes a much-needed shower, dresses, and heads downtown to help.