Family,  Grief & Loss,  Love

A Tale of Two Widows

The other day I was scrolling Facebook when I came across a post that knocked the breath out of me. My neighbor Amy had unexpectedly lost her husband a few days previously. I was in shock and disbelief. It’s one of those things that you hear about and can’t believe it; that your brain struggles to make sense of before eventually giving up because it simply cannot process how this could ever happen.

I met Amy at a neighborhood get together shortly after we moved into the neighborhood. She and I hit it off. She immediately and warmly reached out to me repeatedly, making me feel so included, something I desperately needed at the time. She read the single post on my fledgling blog, and was truly complimentary. Many times she invited my husband and I to socialize with her and her husband, and so we crossed the cul-de-sac, welcomed into their home. We bonded over glasses of rosé. One of our favorite restaurants came from her recommendation. We talked about road tripping together. And then . . . it fizzled out. Their evenings start later, ours start earlier. They have young children, we do not. They would continually invite us over, we would always be out of town. So the friendship never deepened, and it was just one of those ways life goes.

But I will never forget the story Amy told me about how she met her husband. She is a pilot and she was flying for some sort of air ambulance service. One day she looked back into the plane and saw an RN taking such incredible care of a patient that she was blown away. She said his genuine care and compassion for the patient was so obvious that she knew right then she wanted a heart that huge in her life. And so it was meant to be…

And now it’s just her, not they. In an instant, her life has irrevocably and terribly changed, and it will never ever be fixed. Amy is at the beginning of a long and excruciating path that she could not foresee, and now has no choice but to walk. My heart is hurting for her and the kids and everyone who knew and loved him.

Can you imagine a loss of this magnitude? The depth of her grief? The anguish in her heart?

I can, because I have lived it. And so too has my friend Christine, who lost her husband two years ago. We connected on a Facebook group. When we met, it had not been even a year since her loss, and she was still going through it. Yet we bonded, over our husbands dying of prostate cancer, over riding Peloton, over the inconceivable overlap of still grieving the loss of a love and finding new love at the same time. I have been blessed to offer her support and care as she has navigated her way down the same difficult path I also walked. She became a source of support for me too (even now, almost eight years later, I step back onto that path every once in a while.) She has called me her sister and her guardian angel!

A day after hearing about Amy’s loss, I received a text from Christine with a photo of the two happiest faces I have ever seen plus a beautiful ring, prominently featured. Engaged! The joy and happiness I felt was so powerful that I was grateful I was already seated. My eyes filled, witnessing so much love. Because it was meant to be…

As the future unfolds, Amy is enduring the deepest pain she has ever known while Christine is basking in the glow of a happiness she did not think was possible again. Simultaneously, my heart breaks for Amy and soars for Christine. And as I have done countless times walking my own grief path, I marvel at the peaks and valleys of emotion that we are capable of in our human experience.

As time carries us through the years in its firm grasp, it brings us to circumstances, places, people, and relationships that we couldn’t have imagined.

Even, and perhaps especially, in the face of terrible tragedy and overwhelming loss.

I know this because I have lived it. So has Christine.

And so will Amy.

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