Spooky House

Sorry, wrong number — or, what can you be thankful for?

Last week, my husband Bob and I were invited to participate in a discussion group at the house of some friends. There were no streetlights, so it was pretty dark but there were already a few cars parked on the street so it seemed clear we had come to the right spot. Nevertheless, as we approached the house in the darkness, I scanned the house carefully to make sure it was the right house — I had been there once before. Yes, the driveway, front yard and porch all seemed kind of recognizable. This had to be the house.

We rang the doorbell. An older woman whom we’d never seen opened the door. We were confused. We asked if we were at the right house. She said “yes,” we were, and asked us in. She told us there was no need to take off our shoes. The inside of the house seemed unfamiliar. But she’d said we were at the right house. The lady led us to the living room  which was dark, gloomy, and stuffy. It was small, and most of the room was taken up by a massive hospital bed whose back was raised, pointed away from us toward the window. The (to us) invisible person in bed was hooked up to a ventilator or some other device; there was the kind of machine noise and the beeping that you hear in hospitals. Besides that, silence. Gathered around the bed were a handful of people. It was obvious they were saying farewell to whoever was in bed.

At first, we just stood there and gaped. I was shocked and wasn’t sure what to say. After a moment I asked the only question that came to my mind that did not seem too intrusive:  “Is this 67 Bickford Road?” “No, this is 69 Bickford Road” was the answer. We were in the wrong house after all. We left with profuse apologies and well wishes, and the housekeeper apologized as well, explaining that she had been under orders to let anyone in.

A couple minutes later we were in the neighboring house: a warm, brightly lit living room, in the company of friends, with a glass of wine in hand. All was well here. But just one house over, nothing was well at all.

You cannot see from the outside whether it’s a sad or a happy house. But one house makes all the difference.

We’ve all been in a sad house at one point or another and will be again. Or some of you may be in a sad house right now. Then my thoughts and best wishes go out to you.

This week, people in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving. What are YOU grateful for this week? No matter which house you’re in right now, can you find a little something you are thankful for that can shine a light and brighten your dark night?  Is there, perhaps, love in your life—of your partner, your siblings, your children, your parents, God—that brings light into the darkness?  If so, be thankful for it.  It’s what makes life worth living.

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