In my pre-widow life I was fortunate to have lots of friends. We bonded over jobs or kids or committee work or a combination of any/all of these. I knew the value of girlfriends who set you straight when you are weaving a self-destructive path, those who would hold your hair at just the right moment, and the ones with whom I could share my child rearing woes. Each and every one of these unique relationships enriched my life, and I remain grateful for every person that I have called friend.
There is a special category, however, for the people in my life who have also lost a spouse. These friends came to me at a time when I thought no one could make a positive difference in my life. Actually, I am pretty sure I planned to become a recluse. Adding people to my life only increased the odds that I would suffer the loss of another important person in my life. Once I lost Phil, I suddenly realized that everyone I loved was at risk of dying. My immediate response to this devastating realization was to circle my wagons, and to keep my circle small and tight. No one in, no one out.
Then you came along. The people I have met who have suffered the same kind of heartbreak I did, and still risked opening their heart to another person in need. My fellow widowed friends didn't hesitate to welcome me into their stories, their homes, or their hearts. And they changed me. I could laugh with them without wondering if they would think my lightheartedness was a sign of, gasp, recovery. Sometimes I was encouraged, and other times I became the cheerleader. I discovered that my heart was able to allow entrance to this new category of friend, regardless of the risk involved in loving someone new. Their willingness to love my brokenness somehow began the mending process. One relationship led to the next and before I knew it my heart was bigger and more accepting than I ever imagined it could be.
So, thank you my friends. Thank you for sharing both the good and the bad here on this blog, thank you for being willing to allow us to walk with you on your journey of loss, thank you for reaching out to people you have never met with a kindness that beguiles the loss you have experienced, and thank you for being a part of a changing tide of hope for widowed people, because we need each other. Of that I am certain.