“And walk in love….” (Ephesians 5:2 KJV)
The great Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle married his secretary, Jane Welsh. She continued to work for him. But when she got ill, Carlyle, who was deeply devoted to his work, didn’t seem to notice, so he allowed her to keep working. But she had cancer and eventually she was confined to bed.
Although Carlyle truly loved her, he found that he didn’t have much time to stay with her or much attention to give to her. Then she died. After the funeral Carlyle went up to Jane’s room, noticed her diary lying on the table, picked it up and began to read. On one entire page she’d written a single line, "Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like heaven; I love him so much." A reality he had somehow been too blind to see now revealed itself with crushing clarity. He’d been too busy to notice how much he meant to Jane. He thought of all the times he’d been preoccupied with his work and simply failed to notice her. He hadn’t seen her suffering. He hadn’t seen her love.
Turning to the next page, he read words he’d never forget, "I’ve listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it’s late and I guess he won’t come today." He put her diary back on the table and ran out of the house. Friends found him at the side of her grave, covered with mud. His eyes were red from weeping; tears were rolling down his face. "If only I’d known, if only I’d known," he cried. After Jane’s death, Carlyle made little attempt to write again.
Are you neglecting your loved ones?