Today I want to write about friendships. When Byron died my friends stepped in. They did this thing where even if they barely knew each other they formed this connection with each other in order to be there for me. In my mind when I think about it I see a group of girls holding hands with me in the middle. There was food constantly, and calls and text, for a while there was someone there always and I knew that it was being organized and orchestrated by my friends but I couldn’t focus in on things well enough to know how. The craziest thing about it is that I don’t remember much of those days. Like I seriously have no idea where BJ was most of those days. I’m sure it was with family but I don’t remember. I think our bodies can only process a certain amount of pain after that things just get numb. That’s how I feel about the first year or two. I remember bits and pieces like all the crying. I cried in the car, at my desk, in bed, on the couch… I just remember crying and I remember hurting. I remember thinking that I never realized a person’s body could actually hurt from sadness. The first couple of days I felt physical pain… but I don’t remember much else.
I’ve always felt… inept about how I handled those days… I liken it to a certain kind of survivors guilt. I’m not as good a person to my friends as they have been to me. I’ll always be the person wanting to reciprocate because I know I could never repay everyone for who they’ve been for me.
For a long time after Byron died I was an AWFUL friend. My life changed in an instant and then I had to keep going forward but in order to keep going forward I had to put a lot of what I was feeling in my pocket and pretend I was okay. I used to say “you gotta fake it to make it.” I knew that if I stopped faking it, I wouldn’t be able to function the way that I needed to. And everything in my life relied on me functioning. I was so scared. I was scared that BJ would be irreparably damaged. So I sheltered him. I tried to control who he was with, what he heard, how things were said… Anything pertaining to his dad’s death had to be done exactly right or I could risk breaking him forever (so I thought). I totally underestimated BJ’s own strength and resiliency. I made sure everyone that crossed his path knew his dad had died and knew exactly how I wanted it handled. And then a friend of his asked him where his dad was… and it was the first time I’d ever been in that situation and I panicked instead of using it as a teaching moment. I reigned BJ in further… I was terrified. What if someone laughs at him or makes him feel bad or says the wrong thing? It was unrealistic. I was trying to control the uncontrollable and was so far in my head that I lost touch with a close friend of mine over it. She is one of the softest, kindest souls I’ve ever met. A Christian who I’d done bible study in the mornings until close to his death. Who I pushed away during the battle I waged with myself (and God). To this day it’s still one of my biggest regrets (Miss you D). When you would come by and sit with me you told me that sometime there isn’t anything you can say to make things better… all you can do is be present. And I thank you for your presence.
I remember my best friend posting a meme that said something about divorce not being an option, I’ll either be his wife or his widow. Looking back it was genuinely funny. I called her in angry tears. I apparently expected her to think of me before sharing meme’s on Facebook. She was extremely irritated (reasonably), but she took it down. I mean how dare I call someone about a post they made on THEIR Facebook page. Who does that? But she loved me anyways. She charged it to my head and not my heart and knew I was triggered in a manner that she didn’t quite understand. She reminded me that there will always be triggers… and I need to learn how to cope with them instead of expecting the world to adjust. She’s my no nonsense friend. She keeps it real and tells me like it is. I challenge everyone to find a friend like her… not her though. She’s mine.
The thing that I talk about least and most articles I’ve read hardly mention is the tole being widowed takes on the people closest to us. Our friends who we lash out at and struggle to communicate with because we don’t really even understand why we feel the way we feel but allow us to lean on them anyways. Our family who have to watch us pick up the pieces and shed tears with us while we move forward. My mom used to cry almost every time she talked to me. She’d beg me to come home (I live about 3 hours away). But I needed to prove to myself that I could give my babies what they needed, in Dallas, myself. My husband’s death took a toll on her. She stayed in Dallas more than her house the first year because I was pregnant and needed help. She never complained (at least not to me). She stood in the gap for me in ways I can only thank God for. She was also the first person to hold B2.
I write all of this to say… being here hasn’t been easy for anyone of the people who walked through those days with me and I realize that… It took a long time for me be able to see the forest for the trees. And to be able to look back and think… Jeez that had to be so hard for them. I try to express that in person but I thought I’d make a post… I know I say I’m grateful… but I mean it from the bottom of my heart. God knew who to bless me with as family and then he knew who to bless me with as friends. As my best friend likes to say “my village is strong.”