Things are picking up now. The noise has increased.
When I first got here this morning there were three of us, and Vicki the waitress. (I doubt she prefers “server.”) Now the judge is here, Ernie, and a few others.
Compared to last year this time, there are some empty seats.
Two regulars passed away this year. One was a Korean War vet. He was a court officer here in the city in his retirement. He always sat the third seat from the end at the counter. Every day when he left he would get a couple of pieces of bread to feed to the birds outside. About a year ago he lost his lower leg to diabetes. Earlier this year, he passed away.
Richard just passed away last week. He always sat in the very end seat at the counter. He always bought a paper that got passed around after he read it, and he played a little pocket video poker game quite often. He would help out with little things like cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the floors. I think it was in exchange for his coffee. He had gone in the hospital around Thanksgiving time with some pain. I am not sure if they ever figured out exactly what was wrong.
A few other regulars are no longer regulars. Job situations changed from their close place of work next door to a place on the other side of town. So rather than coming in and hanging around for a cup of coffee throughout the day, they don’t come at all. (Though having written this, I see him sitting in the back booth. First time in months that I have seen him in here.)
Of course there are some who got miffed at various things in the diner. They no longer come. In some ways I say, “Good riddance,” though a people conscious pastor probably shouldn’t say stuff like that.
All of which reminds me of the passing of time and the passing of relationships. I knew all these people to one degree or another. I knew them because we came to the same place at the same time.
And now they are no longer here.
It’s only me.
What will another year bring? Who will come into our lives? Who will pass out of them?
Only God knows. We will soon find out.
And perhaps a year from now we will sit here and wonder where So-and-So is, or what happened that That-Guy-Over-There.
So redeem the time. Make the most of every opportunity.
One day it will be the last.