Recently my Kathryne and I had a girls’ night out. It wasn’t something we planned but with her husband at work and mine celebrating a win on the hill at Knoxville, it just seemed like the thing to do. So we did.
Said night out consisted of supper (because I don’t eat dinner) at a semi-local restaurant (meaning we drove across the river but didn’t leave the county). We arrived precisely two minutes after almost everyone else in the world did, so we got to wait for a table, which wasn’t a problem. We tend to keep ourselves entertained when we’re together . . . ‘cause we’re kinda the same person . . . but she’s shorter . . . and younger . . . and a lot cuter.
As we attempted to wedge ourselves into a corner, out of the way but still visible lest they forget that we were there, some friends of ours arrived with another friend in tow, a friend whose wife had died a few years before. The three of them joined us and we all patiently waited together and visited. When the conversation lulled, I took a moment to survey the room, looking for familiar faces and empty tables. The empty tables were not to be found but seated across the room were some folks I recognized. There were three couples, a single gentleman, and a vacant chair . . . a chair that would have been occupied by his wife had she survived the cancer that she fought so valiantly and which had taken her life several years ago.
And in the midst of the chaos of a crowded restaurant, I smiled to myself and my nose began to go slightly red. It does that when my emotions are on the verge of getting the best of me. I knew both of these widowers, knew how much they loved and missed their wives. We had assisted both of them when the time had come and I had watched as they struggled to cope with their losses.
Now, over four and a half years later, their friends had not forgotten them. Despite the fact that they are no longer “couples”, these wonderful people continued to include them in times such as this. They continued to honor years of friendship even though the dynamics of that friendship had changed.
Too often those of us who are blessed with a lack of loss tend to forget about those who are suffering. Maybe forget is too strong a word. Maybe we just don’t always remember. And those who have lost someone, especially someone who was the other half of their life, need to be remembered. We need to make the effort to continue to include them just as we did when they were two instead of one. The loss of a spouse can be devastating and the loneliness that loss brings can be overwhelming . . . but think how much worse it becomes when friendships are lost as well.