As soon as I saw her, I knew something was wrong. Before too long, she made her way to our Market table and spoke my name. I embraced her while she composed herself…keeping back the tears that were so close to the surface. She told me the news. I hugged her again, told her to call if she needed anything and watched her walk away. Her fragility struck me anew. This dear, sweet little woman is about to lose her soul-mate of approximately 70 years. Surrounded by his family, he was happy…but, his passing imminent. Oh, it was so sad…so very sad.
These folks aren’t “just customers”, they are friends. They’ve visited us, watched our children grow, hugged us during bad times, and shared life stories along the way. He grew up in the Midwest grain country, and we’d talk farming and tomatoes, he loved sweet onions and barbershop singing. He had a gentle soul that will be missed at the Market.
Earlier this year, another customer lost her long battle with cancer. Each week, I see her husband come to buy flowers for her grave. That is heartbreaking. She was kind and gracious to me when I truly needed someone to care. I miss her as well.
We’ve done the Market for a long time. That means we’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. Some vendors have passed on, as well as customer-friends… and, to this day those folks are missed. Lots of new babies have been born, so the cycle continues. The fabric of the Market is constantly changing. We count many of these folks among our friends so the loss is felt on a very personal level.
In the past couple weeks, a number of folks connected to the Market have lost loved ones. Three vendors have lost a parent. There have been a number of losses among the customer base as well. While death is a natural occurrence, those left behind are struggling to deal with the new reality. That is hard.
Toby Keith wrote this song after losing his dear friend Wayman Tisdale. It seems touchingly appropriate.
As for those who have recently passed on…you WILL be missed! …and to those doing the missing, the adjusting, the mourning, my heart goes out to YOU!