I whine a lot about all that I lost nearly two years ago when Paul died. And I’ll probably whine a lot more because I really lost so much. But this post isn’t about my loss; it’s about what I’ve gained, because it’s time I call a couple of people out of the rubble. After all, I don’t know that I could have survived this long without them.
[Disclaimer: This post is about friendships that wouldn’t have been formed if Paul hadn’t died, so if I’ve known you for, like, ever please don’t feel slighted.]
First of all, there is my awesome neighbour, Kerry. The night (or rather, early morning hours) that Paul died I called Kerry to pick me up at the hospital in the next town over. I barely knew her, as we’d not been in the house that long, but she took my 3 a.m. phone call and came to the rescue. I stayed at her house until my daddy made the four-hour drive. In the days and weeks after the funeral, Kerry would come round to visit regularly. Her husband, Tom, kept my lawn mowed, and they’d both take me out golfing.
Kerry is still around, popping by to visit now and then. We feed each other’s cats when were away and she’s always just a text message away if I’m home sick and need her to pick something up in town. (We both work at the university, which is convenient!) She stops by for a drink now and then, and now that spring has sprung, there’s talk of more golf—and some weekend walks. In fact, the other day we were talking about how sad it is that I’ll be leaving in a few months’ time, because we’ll miss the friendship.
Next up is Martin. Martin was a friend of Paul’s from university and when I first met him nine years ago I told Paul I would be happy to never see him again because I thought he was a bit of a pompous [censored]. Paul told me to give him a chance and also pointed out that I may have been a bit of a pompous [censored] to his friend, too. A few weeks before Paul died, Martin came up in conversation and I scoffed about how arrogant the guy was (still holding a grudge from that first meeting, because that’s how I roll), but Paul told me he was a good guy. And Paul was right: As soon as Martin heard the news of Paul’s death, he made arrangements to fly out to America for the funeral. He arrived on Friday night and left on Sunday. What a kind and generous gesture to make for a friend.
But more than that, Martin kept in touch regularly after the funeral. He called to check in on me, he offered help with Paul’s UK estate stuff, and he made himself available when I needed to vent. On trips to the UK since Paul’s death, I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with him and have decided that Paul was right, he’s a good guy. Sadly, I’m probably not that nice to him and tend to take out my frustrations on him but I’m trying to be nicer.
And then there’s Rebecca. Another of Paul’s university friends, I first met Rebecca at his memorial services in England. I was sitting at a table with a group of his friends when this woman remarked about my slightly obsessive-compulsive tendencies, as I was habitually straightening coasters and making certain my pint was centred on my coaster at all times. I think she instantly felt bad about making the joke, but I instantly decided that I liked her. The next day she sent me a lovely note and friend request on Facebook and we soon became friends. The few times we’ve seen each other since that first meeting I’ve felt very comfortable around her—as if we’d been friends our entire lives. I don’t know if she realises it, but I’ve never had a female friend who makes me feel so at ease.
Rebecca has become one of my strongest supporters and loudest cheerleaders. She’s there to cheer me up and make me laugh—and she’s been the needed voice of calm and reason when I’ve been anxious and afraid of taking such big steps toward my future. And as I’m going to be living in the same city as her in just a few months (I’ll even stay with her when I first arrive) I’m glad to know that there will be someone nearby to call my friend.
Of course, there are also several other people I’ve gotten to know since (and because of?) Paul’s death. Several of his old friends have reached out on Facebook; a few neighbours have been round to chat; and I’ve grown closer to his family, too. And I’m sure that once I move back to Scotland, some of those connections will flourish into full-on friendships, too.
I feel so blessed to have forged these new friendships and relationships, but they came at a heavy price to my heart. I won’t go down the road of “Who would you chose: Paul or these new friends”; that’s a silly road because I don’t get the choice. Bad things happen. Crappy things happen. And sometimes your entire world crumbles all around you. But if you look in the rubble, sometimes you can find just enough to salvage to make something fabulous—like friendships!