“Whatever life we have experienced, if we can tell our story to someone who listens, we find it easier to deal with our circumstances.” Margaret J. Wheatley
Shortly after my loved one passed, one of my closest friends was to celebrate her thirtieth recovery anniversary. Before my husband’s death, I had been looking forward to seeing her celebrate this milestone surrounded by her family and friends, but now I was struggling.
As the day approached, part of me looked forward to catching up with friends. However, as the thoughts entered my head as to why I would be there without my loved one, my grief seemed to intensify, and I went from feeling heartbreak to inconsolable sadness.
Making the Journey
Since his death, I retreated to my home and isolated myself from others. I knew I needed to get out of myself, so I considered making the journey. For the last several years, I had been so wrapped up in myself that I genuinely wanted to be there for her. She had spent countless hours talking to and supporting me through my loved one’s long illness, hospital stays, and eventual death.
So, I made plans to stay with some friends, bought an airline ticket, rented a car, and was ready to be a part of this beautiful anniversary. I was anxious on the day of my flight and couldn’t wait to get there as I knew a special hug was awaiting me.
This party was the first get-together since my loved one passed, and I felt that attending the event would help me feel connected again.
I can’t say that I had been looking forward to the party, but as my special friend could not be at his funeral, I yearned to feel the love and acceptance that only a close friend can provide.
I arrived in Orlando at 5:00 p.m., picked up my luggage, and rushed to get the rental car. The goal was to beat the rush hour traffic, so I could promptly get to the pre-anniversary event. It had been arranged that several people that knew her well would share, and I wanted to hear what they had to say.
A Shoulder to Cry On
When I arrived, I searched for her, and as I entered the room, I saw her looking at me. She had saved a seat next to her, and I instantly started to cry.
We hugged, and she said a few words of comfort. I laid my head on her shoulder as the tears swept over me. The intimacy of this moment and our relationship was apparent to anyone watching.
I had been friends with this woman for twenty-five years. The long-term relationship fostered trust, honesty, and plenty of love. Through the years, I had shared my pain, joy, loneliness, and deepest secrets with her, so it only made sense that being around her, I felt an intense bond that I hadn’t felt since before my loved one’s death.
It had been forty-five days since my loved one passed, and I started to feel better because I was surrounded by many long-time friends whom I consider family. During the evening, I was able to spend a little time with my close friend, but our quality time would come during the following few days.
The Waves Were Calling Me to Sleep
As the evening ended, I found myself experiencing some reprieve from my grief. We made our way to the hotel, and I finished my day listening to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, finding a little peace as I dozed off to sleep.
The following morning we got up early, took a walk, and had a lovely breakfast, killing time waiting for the celebration to begin. I tried to focus on why I had come all this way but couldn’t sustain the thoughts of celebration for very long. My grief drowned the symphony that the ocean waves provided, and thank goodness that before I knew it, it was time to go to the event.
And Now Time for the Party
As I walked into the venue, I saw many old friends. These friends were attentive and allowed me to share a little of my grief. A few of them joined me in shedding some tears.
With others, I could see them grapple with what to say to a new widow and truly appreciated their attempts knowing that nothing would change how I felt.
The festivities began with serving food, allowing people to eat, mingle and share stories. That was preceded by a video of photographs depicting moments in her life with many people who had gathered in the banquet room. Afterward, people began giving toasts and sharing how much it meant to them to be there for her thirtieth recovery anniversary.
I sat with friends and listened to the testimonials knowing how blessed I was to have someone so caring and loving in my life. I felt terrible for not sharing a lovely story. But I was overwhelmed with my grief and afraid I would ruin this occasion, so I didn’t say a word.
Knowing I was overwhelmed with my loss, the celebrant hugged me and whispered a few words.
I don’t remember the specifics, but she managed to make time during her party, which allowed me to feel a deeper connection to her on her special day.
As my trip ended, I was immensely grateful to have made this journey which allowed me to be a part of the celebration and to share my tears, hugs, grief, and love for my special friend.