I can’t remember the first time I met her. Either in elementary school or junior high. Lucy and I have known each other, or at least known of each other, for the past 40 years or so.
But we didn’t really become ‘friends’ until we joined the same club. The widow club. We became friends, then we became sisters in grief.
She lost her husband too young, so when I lost mine, there was a natural connection I think we were both drawn to each other over something not all of our friends could understand. We’ve talked on and off for the last few years, but because we’re in different states now, we don’t see each other as often as we would like. In fact, we don’t see each other at all.
So, when we had a chance to connect in person at our high school reunion, we took advantage of a few quiet moments and sat on a patio on a warm summer night. I’m not even sure we exchanged pleasantries. We just both had so many questions about this whole widowhood thing and how I’ve been doing with it, and how she’s been doing with it. I asked her questions about Ned. She asked questions about Chad. We talked about our kids and their grief. We compared all our notes.
And then she said something that caused me to pause. We were talking about the ‘firsts’ after you become a widow. You know, the first holiday. The first birthday. The first anniversary. And she reminded me that really, the firsts never stop.
I started thinking about that and realized how right she is. There are things coming in our lives that are still going to be the firsts. Our children’s weddings. Our grandchildren. Our retirements. Even our reunions.
It was a horrible, yet poignant, realization of what grief actually is. It’s really about all the things you will come to do in your life that are going to be wrapped up in wondrous milestones, but without the person we love.
Grief is going to hit every time.
So, I think we naturally gravitate towards people who understand. People who can empathize with how you feel, and people who can validate what you’re feeling.
And that part I think is beautiful. That’s one of the gifts we get from grief.
As muddy and ugly and messy grief is, it will always bring you to the person or people who get it. And they will allow you talk. They will allow you to cry. They will allow you to say their name. And they will do this without any hesitation and without any judgement.
So tonight, I am thankful I traveled back home for my reunion. I’m thankful for the memories of my youth. I’m thankful for the hugs and all the catching up.
But mostly, I’m thankful for Lucy, who I can honestly say is now my friend. Who gave me a new perspective, an outlet, and some clarity.
Find your people. Talk about the person you love, and they will find you, too. And you will take care of each other, and you will be proud of each other, and you will find the sisterhood we all so desperately need.
Don’t be afraid to share. Don’t be afraid to say their name. Don’t be afraid to be raw and vulnerable.
Because one day, some girl you knew way back when might need you, just as much as you need her.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Idaho. Her books “Grief Life” and “Grief & Glitter” are available in print and on kindle. You can find more of her books here, and her podcast here. Connect with Diana on her author Facebook page, and Instagram.
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