Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Paying It Forward

I had dinner last night with a fellow widow. We first connected through the YW board and then through mutual friends. She is heading into her six-month “sadiversary”. Oh, how I remember that time period. It was perhaps the most difficult along this journey. Shock was beginning to wear off and the reality of loss seemed overwhelming. It was also the point where I was trying to compensate with material possessions both for the boys and myself. I wouldn’t want to relive that time for anything, but sure would like to have made different choices.

This week my schedule has been overloaded. I have little to no down time and much to accomplish, but when this widow called I knew that she needed a sympathetic ear. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to our visit, but was reminded that it was at my own six month mark when I connected with the Chicago widows. They were, and continue to be, a very special lifeline. So, I wanted to at least attempt to “pay it forward”. We met at a local restaurant and clicked immediately. Conversation easily flowed out of the loneliness of loss and spanning across the difficulties of raising children without their father.

When a spouse dies, you not only lose your best friend, lover, confidant…you lose your support system, your anchor and sometimes your confidence. Gaining back your self-assurance is a long road. One thing I appreciated most about my widow group in Chicago was that they were like my life cheerleaders. I wanted to be that for my new friend.

Surprisingly, it was so very easy to do. We laughed together---teared up together, but most of all we “got” each other. Here is someone I barely knew; the only thing we had in common was the loss of a spouse, yet we immediately connected.

Paying it forward is one of life’s privileges. We all have experienced heartache, pain and even joy which connects us to others. Connecting with another in a meaningful fashion not only enriches their life, but enhances our own. Living life to the fullest has little to do with “stuff”—nice houses, new cars or exotic vacations, but is about sharing with those along the journey. In the end, the legacy we leave has much more to do with relationships than with anything temporal.

This I know for sure.


Lisa said...

The fact that you have the energy to "pay it forward" is testimony to how far along you are on the pathway of healing. It lifts my heart to see you shining like this.
And I LOVED A Thousand Splendid Suns! Even more than Kite Runner...
Once your life settles down a little next month, we'll definitely plan a Starbucks run.

Elaine Williams said...

Wonderful post. As a widow of four years I know that feeling of connection with others who are in similar grief experiences. For me, six months was the time I started to grief. It began with my wedding anniversary and then Christmas....I don't envy anyone going through this process, and yet I have learned so much. Best to you. Elaine