Guess Who Came To Dinner At My House Today?
Logo Copyright@2018, Adah F. Kennon, Ph.D.
This short story goes out to anyone who feels alone and afraid. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it (with divine inspiration, of course).
Guess Who Came To Dinner At My House Today?
Have you ever wondered how things that once seemed so important now seem so insignificant? I remember a day not so long ago when I was running around trying to figure how I would squeeze preparing a quick dinner into a day already filled with too many chores. You see, I was caring for my elderly husband who had a chronic disease. That made me his caregiver. As usual, I left everything to the last minute. So there was no wonder that I found myself shopping at our neighborhood grocery store, frantically going up and down each aisle searching for items we might both enjoy.
As I was leaving the store, I saw a woman walking across the parking lot. I don’t know why, but there was something about her that peaked my curiosity. I took my time walking to my car so as to get a good look at her. She was dressed casually in what looked like a warm-up suit and well-worn tennis shoes that had seen better days. Her tousled hair definitely needed a good washing and cut. A tattered blue back-pack hung carelessly across one shoulder. What really made her stand-out was that she moved quickly from car to car, asking for money to buy food. She was obviously a vagrant and deserved to be reported to the store manager. After all, wasn’t it the duty of every good American citizen to do that?
I was just about to go back into the store to find the manager when I seemed to hear a very faint voice urging me not to turn her in. I stopped in my tracks and looked around, but there was no one near me. Then, from somewhere deep down inside of me, I heard a voice saying, “Judge not lest you be judged.” I stood there for what seemed to be a very long minute, then decided to dismiss the entire incident as the creation of a very vivid imagination. Anyway, she was long gone and I had other things to do that day. But, as I walked to my car I couldn’t help but notice the feeling of peace that suddenly enveloped me like a warm blanket on a cold winter day. Strange.
Shortly after that my husband died after loosing his battle with the chronic disease that caused him so much misery and pain. I always considered myself to be a spiritual person although i didn’t affiliate with any particular denomination or belong to any particular church. We both prayed for a cure but it didn’t happen. I suppose that there are some people who might turn away from God when things don’t go their way and even utter a few choice words in the process. I didn’t, but I won’t pretend that I accepted what happened. I was so confused. I felt like we had been abandoned. There was a part of me that rejoiced because his suffering had ended. Yet, with each day I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into some dark and lonely place from which there seemed no possibility of ever seeing light again. You see, I loved him and really missed him. It was just the two of us. As his caregiver I built my whole world around satisfying his needs, often neglecting mine.
My choice was simple – remain in our very spacious home alone with my memories or make an attempt to re-enter the human race. Oh, I had good friends who offered support. But, it was my choice to spare them from what I was sure would cause them undo stress by trying to keep a stiff upper lip in response to my unpredictable and explosive expression of grief. This was my battle and I determined to fight it alone. So, I promised them that I would try to get out as much as possible, maybe go to the gym or walk around the shopping malls. Maybe being around others would help me raise my spirits. Maybe hearing their laughter and expressions of joy and happiness and hope would encourage me to believe that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I could try. Yes, I would try. However, things went from bad to worse. There would be no pause to recover from the grief that I was going through as an individual. There would be no opportunity to tap-into those positive vibes. The resources I counted on suddenly vanished. Once again, I would be alone.
As fate would have it, his death occurred just as a vicious plague came on the scene – a virus that would go on to claim hundreds of lives each day and cause unbelievable suffering for people around the world. A long-term remedy would perhaps come in the form of a vaccine. But, the human race would have to wait, perhaps for months. In the meantime, we fought back by wearing protective gear, social distancing and staying home. When they dared to venture out, people scurried around getting provisions, possibly to last for a few weeks, and I was right in there with them.
One day, I was in the check-out line at the neighborhood grocery store. I didn’t pay much attention to the man standing ahead of me, but he was obviously short on cash, meaning that he couldn’t pay his bill. He kept going through his pockets, but with little success other than to pull-out balls of lint which he let fall to the floor. I could sense his embarrassment and then his surprise when he heard me offer to pay his entire bill. Then, surprise turned to relief as he asked, “Why are you doing this for me?” I simply said, “Well, it’s the Christian thing to do.” He smiled and thanked me, telling me that his name was Jim.
Days passed, and then suddenly it was Easter. A sigh of disbelief could be heard throughout the country as folks were instructed to stay home, celebrate religious services over the internet and forgo feelings of support and comfort experienced when families gather for dinner. The reason behind the decision was obvious; but that didn’t make it easier to accept or comply with. Of course, it didn’t make much difference to me. I dreaded the day, knowing that I would be dining alone for the first time in almost thirty years.
It was almost noon before I pulled myself away from the television, which by now was my only consistent companion. A quick review of what was in my kitchen refrigerator confirmed what I already knew. I would be having leftovers from the past two days. Sad. I started to pull-out some of the more interesting candidates when suddenly I heard a knock at my front door. That was odd, because I live in a guarded community and no one had called to tell me I had a visitor. I opened the door and was surprised to see JIm, the man from the store, standing there holding a bag of groceries! Words stumbled across my lips as I tried to hide my amazement. “How did you find me?” He was looking directly at me, but I found it odd that I couldn’t distinguish the color of his eyes. Without changing his expression, he said in a soft voice, “What’s important is that I did. May I come in?”
Maybe it was my loneliness. Maybe it was my curiosity. I sensed no threat from him; so, I invited him in. He smiled and walked inside, his steps measured and his back as straight as a flagpole. I stared in disbelief as he walked directly to my kitchen, as if he was a frequent guest and knew exactly where it was located. He placed the bag on the counter, saying, “I wanted to repay your kindness; so, let me cook dinner for you today.” How did he know I would be eating alone? It never occurred to me that I could decline his offer. On the contrary, I suddenly felt like an old and very dear friend had just walked back into my life.
I set my dining room table with my best china and crystal stem-ware, and even found a few carefully folded linen napkins. Jim moved around my kitchen with the skill of an executive chef, turning the few ingredients in his bag into sheer delights for the palate. Needless to say, I quickly retuned my left-overs to the refrigerator for another day. Neither of us drank alcoholic beverages, preferring iced tea and water. When all was prepared, we sat at the table, eating and talking for what seemed like hours. I made sure that the room was well-lit as it was obvious that we were going to be there well into the night. It was strangely comforting that I felt so at ease with him, sharing so many things previously kept near and dear to my heart.I felt like it was alright to do so and that he wouldn’t judge me for the choices I made.
Suddenly Jim’s tone took a serious turn as he said, “I’d like to ask you a question. Why did you leave me?” Now, that made my head spin. And, it was totally out of context, given what we were just talking about. “I’m not sure what you mean, Jim. I only met you a few days ago at the supermarket.” Could I have been wrong about him? Was he really crazy? Had I allowed a “well-disguised” deranged person to come into my house? What happened next made me begin to doubt my own sanity.
It occurred to me that I was so wrapped-up in our conversation that I hadn’t paid close attention to Jim’s physical characteristics. It didn’t seem necessary because he was so nice. Now, it was as if a veil was being lifted from my eyes. In the dimness of the dining room light, I saw before me what was obviously a man, but of many different skin colors, with numerous facial characteristics and hair textures! White, black, red, yellow – one color quickly replacing the next color, in- and- out, giving an overall blurred effect. Hair textures changing from straight to kinky, curly to wavy. Hair colors transitioning from blond to black, brown, and red. Eye colors transitioning from grey to amber, green to blue, hazel to brown and then jet black. And, was I also sensing the underlying presence of a female identity? With a look that bordered on amusement, Jim repeated his question, “Why did you leave me?” With that, I began to understand who it was that sat before me, and in my dining room no less? I felt myself struggling to carefully form the next words coming from my mouth, knowing that ‘ honesty’ would indeed be the ‘best’ policy. Jim seemed to sense my predicament. He took pity on me and quickly continued.
“I didn’t want you to be frightened by my true appearance. But, I wanted to spend some time with you and especially today. I could have opened the door, but it was more important that you do this. It was your choice. I felt that you were ready and you didn’t let me down. It was you who let me in and I can’t tell you how happy that made me. My daughter has come back to me. This is a fine opportunity to get re-acquainted with each other. I go to many worlds, many places, and visit with many entities, some of whom are people. Some need more attention than others, and that brings me to you. I know how you took care of your husband and how deeply you were hurt by the separation when he transitioned to my kingdom. I know that you didn’t understand that his disease had gone beyond the point where anyone on this Earth could help him. So, he had to come home to me where he could be made whole. By the way, he really loves to eat. But, he doesn’t eat like this. The menu in my kingdom is quite different. I saw you when you had mercy on that woman in the parking lot. I was there when you paid that man’s bill. You’ve got real potential, but that’s conversation for another day.”
The only thing that I could do was sit there, transfixed with my mouth open, putting the life of any fly in the room in jeopardy. With a twinkle in his eye, he continued, “By the way, that man in the store was me. I go by many names. It’s not important. I want you to know that you have never been alone. I will never turn away from you, even if you choose to turn away from me. In fact, heaven is full of caregivers. So, you’ll fit right in, when your time comes.” Seeing my concerned look, he quickly added, “Don’t worry. There is still a great need for caregivers on this planet, and I have much work for you to do.”
Assured that I had regained my composure, Jim stood up, saying that he still had others to visit and that he thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I thanked him, asking if there would be more visits in the future. “Yes, you are now on my permanent list. In fact, wait until you see what I plan to cook for dinner tomorrow.” 🙂