Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's a Small World After All

Today, a young woman from my hometown -- 25 years old, a mother of two young girls -- was widowed.  Her husband died after a long battle with kidney failure and pancreas problems.  This wasn't just any young woman -- she was the younger sister of a childhood friend of mine.  Oddly enough, she was also paired up with me in a peer mentoring problem when she was in junior high and I was in high school. 

I only found out a few days ago that her husband was sick, when she reached out to me for support and advice.  I immediately broke down in tears, crying for her struggle and the pain that I knew would lie ahead.  I have sent her some words of encouragement and advice, the most I could come up with.  I hope anyone reading who knows who I am talking about will do the same, not just today or this week, but in the days, weeks, and months to come.  Let me remind you that you don't have to have the unique insight that I have to be helpful to someone else in their time of loss -- all you have to do is reach out to show your love.  That really helps people through some dark times.  As I've noted before, even text messages and Facebook posts or messages can make all the difference on a dark day.  Cards, personal visits, gifts, and wine --well, maybe the wine is a personal preference -- are even better.

Anyway, I've shed a lot of tears for this young woman in the past few days and I broke down sobbing when I found out her husband had succumbed to his illness today.  It hit me, though, that I was crying for her, and not for myself.  They were tears of empathy for her pain, not tears that came because this brought back into focus what I have lost.  In a way, I was proud of myself that I could say that; I think it means I've come a long way.  Yes, I sometimes still cry for myself -- for what I've lost, for frustration at the difficulties that come with my new life, and just because I still miss the big guy I called my husband for so long.  But today, the tears were for her.  I do think I wouldn't have cried so hard if I didn't know the pain firsthand -- my loss has made me so much more empathic to others, so much more aware of what death does to the living, and particularly what widowhood means. 

I don't plan to devote a lot of time and energy trying to figure out the bigger plan for all our lives, nor do I think I'm capable (nor is anyone) of putting all those cosmic pieces together anyway, but I will say this:  This got me wondering about why life unfolds like it does.  Perhaps part of my role, as a result of my experience, is to be able to reach out to this young woman in a way that few others can.  Isn't it an eerie coincidence that we were previously in a mentor/mentee situation?  I hope I can mentor her now in a much more meaningful way than when we were kids. 

In the meantime, everyone, please pray for Lacy and her family during this difficult time.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful post, Wendy. While the only thing we have in common is that we lost our husbands in 2010, I see a link in how this has impacted us. I have so much more empathy for others now and I, too, feel that my long caregiving experience happened for some specific reason ... to prepare me for what my new life alone will bring. See you in Widville.