I have a friend. We met years and years ago….before the grey in our hair, and the wrinkles in our brows. There were nine of us-and then ten… My friend and her husband-then me with mine. Her two kids, and my three…and then the addition of my last little one.
Ten. And at the very core…were us four. Laughing. Crying. Teasing. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Boating. Fishing. And everything in between. Two couples who’s strength in love was evident to all who knew us. When my world was turned upside down with Terry’s diagnosis, it was Barb I reached out to. When I sat alone those days leading up to his massive surgery, it was Barb that rushed to my side. As Terry and I sat hand in hand in his hospital room to pray, it was our friends, Barb and Dave, we thanked God for time and again. How lucky we were to have these two in our lives. When Terry’s breath grew short in his final hours, I called them to sit with me and my family. For they were our family. Their kids, I love like mine.
When the pain of early loss took my breath away, I sought solace in their little piece of heaven. Where the sun shone bright and the water held promises of peace. Where their arms would reach for me in silence when the tears took over. Then there were three…but never did they make me feel uncomfortable or out of place. They always made room for me, easing me back into pieces of myself I never thought I would find again. The laughter continued, and it was in those moments I knew that somewhere I was still alive. Their love shone through, reminding me of my own love with a man I missed with every breath I took. Love so strong and true. Irreplaceable and one of a kind. Respectful and honest. Passionate and giving. Faithful and deep. I loved spending time with them, because I could feel Terry with us. Not his absence, but the weight of his love around my heart. My friends who helped bring me back from my despair to a place I could feel a little more like myself again.
Then another unthinkable happened. My friend’s world shattered around her. When I heard the news, my throat closed up. Like in a nightmare, my eyes blurred with tears, and the panic once again settled over my heart. I couldn’t breathe. My thoughts were of her and those two beautiful kids I loved so well. I needed to find strength for them. Needed to find a way to think clearly-to be there for them when they most needed me. I hated that my dear Barb would know the depth of unimaginable pain.
I take my friend’s hand now…where she counts the moments of her loss in months passed. I grieve beside her as I witness the raw pain on her heart. I grieve for her loss and mine. For ours as we both lost friends. I grieve the person I once was, and the person she was once too. I understand now the strength she gave me all of those years ago. When I couldn’t face the world without Terry by my side. I understand now how much their hearts hurt for me, watching me walk a path they would have done anything to save me from. I hate that our paths are parallel once again. Once as young wives and mothers, and now as widows.
As I reach back and take her hand, I will tell her this:
I believe in you, Barb. I believe in your ability to work through your grief in your way and in your time. As you were there for me, I am now here for you. With patience, acceptance, and compassion.
Beside you I will hold memories dear, honouring David as your loving Husband, a firm yet gentle Father to your amazing children, and a one of a kind Friend to me and so many others.
As our journeys are similar, they are also different. Grief is unique to each of us. No one of us grieve the same way or in the same timeframe. I have no prolific words of advice, or magical words of solace. I can offer her limited understanding, knowing only what my grief journey has taught me. I can hold her hand, and shed tears for her. I can sit beside her and let her cry. I can do what she and David did for me, and laugh with her-giving her hope that she may one day feel a little bit alive again.