I toasted three important people in my life yesterday. I have a few others to celebrate, to thank in person, but they were my start. These are the gals who I have been friends with for over forty years, and the ones who physically came running and then stood by me when the cacoon walls of my life tumbled down exposing the ugly. They were the ones who held my hand, texted me out-of-the-blue, called me when I sent a despairing text of my own, helped me along in my decision making when I was too weak for confidence (I’m still working on this), and didn’t let me push them away with a ‘tell me when you’re ready’. Instead, they stood firm next to me, with a ‘not going anywhere no matter how hard you try to dismiss me’ while validating any of my feelings however jumbled. Most importantly, they loved, oh how they have loved me, unconditionally. I owe these gals so much and more.
Yes, most definitely, I allowed them to come in, although, knowing them, they would have come without an invitation. But I accepted them, and I did because I knew when they came to me, there would be a familiarity between us. I wouldn’t have to fake it or push down any of my emotions. I knew I could and would be my authentic self however uncomfortable, even unattractive, that may be. So I allowed them in. And they have never moved on.
After my invite of a few weeks back, these gals came over to my discovery apartment. (I have now renamed from my escape apartment to my discovery apartment because I am not escaping anything here, but oh the discoveries I think I will make.) They fell in love with the place…I mean, without bragging, not sure how you can’t. After the tour and before we had a mock Thanksgiving lunch – I won’t go into details of the lunch as I am repeating this dinner for my bookclub gals/neighbors/friends who were sources of strength for me as well the weeks after the nightmare began and I like surprises – I toasted them. I sobbed my way through the words letting them know how very thankful I am to them for being my pillars when I need to lean.
The four hours flew with the type of familiarity, comfort and loving moments that can only exist between old friends. We talked…okay, I talked a lot and I’ve got to stop that. I need to listen. Oh sure, they talked too, sorta. I also cried, a lot. Oh, they got teary-eyed, but I sobbed. I still struggle with getting through an hour of my day without tears. Peter’s impact on me, in my life, was too strong not to mourn it and mourn it often. I know they got it. They get me. They got Peter. They get us as a once-couple. They expressed their pride in me. I expressed my pride in me. And then, we laughed. Oh, how we laughed. It felt good to laugh like this. One of our laughs was the type you can’t catch your breath and afterward, you feel like you just had a good work out.
They gave me a beautiful gift of a platter with interchangeable themes along with a bottle of champagne I think I’ll open in the New Year. I, in turn, gave them a gift from my heart, something that means so much to me – my writing. I gave them each a signed copy of my book. In each of them, right below my dedication to Peter, I wrote how much I appreciated them picking up the pieces when I crumbled and for being my forever strength. No truer words. Without my sisters, my friends, my pillars, I am not sure how I could have gotten through this thus far. This is not an overstatement.
Oh I know I have been blessed – and yes, I do see my blessings in them – with so many wonderful people in my life. Sure, I’ve also been disappointed by others, mostly because of my own expectations, but also by their lack of follow-through. However, I am moving past those people with a shrug and an oh well. Really. I am because I know of what I do have. And what I have is so much.
I am beyond blessed to have my children for they were, and will continue to be, the number one reason I kept going, will keep going. They are the angles who have been fluttering around in my soul. And I have this group of girlfriends. They have been my brawn when I have nothing in me, my pullback when my angst takes me places and my heart when mine is riddled with pain. They have been the solid columns for me to grab hold of when the winds of widowhood try to blow me down.
When these friends left my discovery apartment, a blanket of warmth fell over me. I felt comforted and safe and stronger. I sang with my Spotify while I put things away. I smiled and laughed going over our silliness, silliness I’ve been missing. And I thought, when I get closer to better – not sure if I’ll ever get a hundred percent “better” – I will be a better friend to them. I will talk less, listen more. I will help them, instead of being the helpee. I will be their strength when they need me. I can’t do that now. It’s too early for me to even attempt to do any of these things. But eventually, I will. Until then, I know they’re not going anywhere and that is the true meaning of friends. And Maryann, Rose, and Terri are the truest of friends. I am forever grateful.