I've wondered at times what to share from my walk through the trauma... trying this time to do what never got done before - sort out what happen and pack it away in a manner that I can live with. It sort of got jumbled like a picnic thrown in the car when the clouds overhead burst open - hurriedly, without care, a jumbled mess. Left there, it did not grow any prettier.
Now I am sorting it all out, much like my games cupboard. There are a lot of things in this mess - some useful and some which need to be ditched - but in among them are some treasures. Right now, I am washing those off and setting them where I can see them.
One of the most precious, one of those which I hold most dear was a little flagged message on my facebook. I will admit to being pretty puzzled when I saw the name. Her? I haven't really heard from her or talked to her in thirteen years. We barely know each other anymore. I only added her last year because her husband was killed in a traumatic event leaving her with four little kids the same ages as mine. I wanted to send my condolences.
So when her name popped up on a message, I was puzzled. I was not putting much on my facebook, just simple posts that did not mean much, "Waiting for news this morning, and there is none." "Sitting here watching the lone snowflakes fall. It's pretty cold." People who knew the situation were getting the news; those who didn't might have thought I was down or bored. Why was she writing?
I opened up her letter. It was simple. "Girl, you are freaking me out. What is going on?" I messaged her back, "Send me your phone number." It occurred to me that she might be just the person I needed to talk to late on that second evening. It was difficult to talk with people - they kept saying, "I can't imagine how you are feeling." or "Poor you." Honestly, that was not helpful right then. I needed to find strength - the knowledge of how to go on. So I phoned her. Brief greetings after 13 years, and I told her the situation.
"Oh, girl, I am so sorry!" came her voice on the other end. Tears filled my eyes and I drew a deep breath and blew it out. We talked for a few more minutes... and then I remembered... I had totally forgotten to give her my sympathy about her husband's death... how could I be so selfish and uncaring?!
I stopped in the middle of what we were saying and exclaimed, 'Oh honey, I forgot to tell you how sorry I am that he was killed! I'm so sorry!"
I heard a deep chuckle over the line, louder than my horrified exclamation, "Girl, I know you are sorry! But right now is not about him, it is about what you need!"
We talked that night. The very fact of her existence, of her voice sounding strong, filled with sympathy and humor, gave me strength. No matter what path I would be asked to walk, it was a path that was possible to walk and survive. We talked about the kids, and she shared with me how to deal with kids in grief. She reminded me, in the middle of all that was going on, to give them time to be kids, to laugh, to cuddle, to have joy - not to set the joy down in the middle of grief. (That gave me the strength to go to church the next day and stand and sing like always and not give up.)
Then, as our conversation wound to an end, she said, "Girl, I know what else you need. You need to laugh, too. Here, let me help you...." and she proceeded to tell me a very embarrassing story about her daughter's first friend that was a boy coming over to "go over homework together", and she had just been out working in the yard, so she popped in for a quick shower before he arrived. When she finished, she realized that there were no towels in the bathroom, but heard her daughter in the hall, so stepped out of the bathroom to ask her to grab her a towel... yup, and ran smack into this boy that was coming over! She ended it saying, "Yup, I bet that scarred him for life!"
We sat on our kitchen floors half a world away and laughed until tears ran out of our eyes. I told her about the attack of the cockroaches that had me run out of a guest house bathroom in my birthday suit hollering for my husband. We howled and held our sides as we giggled.
I needed that. She knew what I needed; and with her, I felt no guilt about laughing... no one would think I was dishonoring my husband or making light of the situation. She knew that I also just needed to laugh - so I did not forget how.
When my husband was free, she was one of the first to rejoice with me - with complete joy. Tears pooled again in my eyes as I watched her joy in me having what she does not have.
I wrote her later and told her that if I ever have to walk her road, I can only hope I will do it with as much grace and strength that she has. She still is an inspiration to me.
And somewhere, buried in there with my admiration for this friend... is another lingering question. How did this woman with whom I have not exchanged one word with since our first babies learned to crawl together know that I needed her that minute? She doesn't even know me enough to know that something was really, really off. And even if she thought something was strange, what prompted her to message me then? We hadn't talked in 13 years!
When those who should have responded did not, God was not caught without people He could send in - even a young widow half a world away who I haven't talked to in thirteen years!
That is one of the jewels in the sorting out that I have dusted off and put in a place of remembrance - not only of God's abilities, but of the amazing compassion and great sense of humor of a good friend who reached out of her sorrow to be with me and then rejoiced with such unbridled joy in the miracle that returned my husband.