For almost three years my friend Deb and I have been talking on the phone once or twice a week. It's always as the day winds down. One of the times I think we miss our husbands the most, when we'd be talking over the day with them. Deb lives across the country from me and her husband passed away about 6 months before Rickie did. Suddenly, as he did. One minute they weren't feeling well and the next they were lying on the porch lifeless.
Our lives have run parallel in other ways. Both single moms with two young boys when we met the men that would become our second husbands. The men with whom we would find the happiness we hadn't found before, our soulmates, to use a word I'm not crazy about, our best friends. They would help raise our kids as their own, learning how to be a parent, not by easing into it, but by jumping right into a ready made family. We each then had a daughter. All of our kids were grown, married, and with children of their own. Our youngest grandchildren, the children of our daughters, were toddlers when our husbands died.
And we were left to pick up the pieces of dreams ended and families stricken.
I haven't always known Deb. Back when the ranch cabin was first seen on tiny house blogs I received some Facebook friend requests from people I didn't know. Normally I don't friend people I don't know. I can be annoying to some people with my outspoken comments, and vice versa - ha! - and it's also a safety issue. But the times are changing and people meet in different ways. So I accepted friend requests from a few women I didn't know and I have come to count them all as real friends and some of the people I enjoy most keeping up with. I'd welcome any of them into my home.
Deb reached out to me after Rickie died and, while I'm not normally a phone person, I've come to look forward to our conversations. Living alone like we each do, it's a way to talk over things on our mind, share what we've been up to, and have some human contact. The thing I miss the most with Rickie gone is just the day to day conversations. One of the hardest things was not having anyone to call when I was traveling and let them know I made it home safely. There was no one who was waiting to hear that. Everyone has their own lives going on, as they should, and the person that cared the most whether we were ok was gone. It's not the big things you miss the most; it's the little things.
And so began our friendship, first as a way for us each to cope by knowing there was someone else in the same boat as we were. As time went by and we became real friends, we included things like asking after each other's families and asking each other's advice. We cried together and still do sometimes, though not as much as at first, and we laugh together. And talk about things only we and other widows and widowers understand.
This week Deb told me about a speaker she had heard Sunday. The woman had been a widow for 12 years. Something she said stuck with Deb and she shared it with me. It was that we can't live the life we had before. That's gone. We have to make a new life for ourself. The two years I stayed at the ranch I was trying to keep life as it was. Everything was the same except Rickie wasn't home. I think that's normal but there comes a realization that you can't keep that kind of life up. It comes slowly and I don't know that I even consciously thought of it as that way. I just instinctively knew I couldn't stay and survive.
Deb and I talked about how we have to actually do the making of a new life. While we've had support and love from family and friends without which we would not have survived, no one has taken us by the hand and said, here, this is what you'll do. We've had to figure it out ourselves. Taking welcome advice and help in some matters from loved ones, but ultimately, at the end of the day, we are alone, and alone we have to find our place in the world we find ourselves in. We've each tried to do that in our own way.
So, this post is for you, Deb. Thank you for being my friend. And for making those end of the day calls where we talk over the little things in our lives and sometimes the big things. If there's one thing I've learned these last three years, it's don't wait until people are gone and wish you'd told them how much you value them.