Last night Don and I went out with your husband, Bill, and his new girlfriend, Judy. I know, I know — you and I joked about this eventuality, but here it is, happening in real time.
You died a year ago, and I promised to keep you in the loop, so here goes. After all your dreadful cardiac events, the fact that you died wasn’t a surprise; I’m sure you weren’t surprised, either. But you and I never stopped talking when you were alive, so why should we now? We never made a plan for how to stay in touch, so I’m figuring maybe you read the Herald.
In case you don’t have internet access, let me assure you, your kids are doing OK and honoring your memory by reaching out to Bill and visiting him often. You were worried about your “baby,” Sally, but her cancer scare was just that, a scare. She’s fine. Your grandson, Elliot, just got into Emory University. The little one, Isabel, is playing on her school’s soccer team. I apologize in advance if you know this stuff already. We here, in the life, are handicapped by not knowing what comes next.
Bill seemed so lonely in the weeks after you died, and then, typical of Bill, we went out to dinner one night and he told me he was “done” with grief. Really. As if one can wrap it up, tie it with a bow and throw it down a chute. To his credit, he had tried to help himself. He went to bereavement groups, and therapy, and finally landed happily in a men’s group where the common quest is finding a woman to date. Apparently, the men, all over 70, pass around women’s names and numbers like lottery numbers. I’m being glib, but it’s a good thing; it is so debilitating to be lonely as one gets older.
Bill’s search became obsessive. He told me he had more numbers than he could possibly call in a week. Women were leaving text messages and friends were offering fix-ups. Eventually a woman he went out with told him he wasn’t for her but she had a friend he would like. That was Judy.
I’m happy for him, but I didn’t want to go out with them. You and I were the glue in the relationship. Our husbands were companionable, but they were pretty much along for the ride, while you and I shared something special. I think we “got” each other, no small thing.
I want Bill to be happy, and I hope to see him, but not as couples. It’s unfair, but some relationships just can’t be mixed and matched. People aren’t chess pieces.
I knew your husband was dating someone because he called me a few months back to ask about possible weekend getaways for golf and hiking. Bill, hiking?? When you were alive he would barely walk, what with the back braces and ankle straps and the belly hanging over his pants. The newly single Bill slimmed down, and he’s thrown away his crutches, figuratively speaking. He said he was seeing someone and I didn’t ask any questions.
Then, last week, he asked us to go to dinner to meet his new love interest. We said yes, but for me it was a “never again” experience. Oh, it was all OK. But you were the fifth person at the table. Judy is a perfectly nice woman (am I killing her with kindness?), although it’s a little concerning that she was married four times, so far. And she’s lying about her age.
She is cheerful and gifted at small talk. She’s neither conservative nor liberal, neither Democrat nor Republican, neither a feminist nor a chauvinist. In other words, you would hate her. She and your husband seem to have a friendship with benefits, the benefits being companionship and traveling and the not-having-to-eat-dinner-alone thing.
I wish them well, but I had nothing to say to her and she had nothing to say about anything but herself and her teaching gigs and the cocker spaniels she raises. She was missing the all-important X factor, X equaling humor. You and I never met a life situation we couldn’t and didn’t laugh about. The last time I saw you, we hugged and shared a wicked joke about the ridiculous possibility of Trump getting elected. Maybe you don’t get election results. I’ll spare you the bad news.
My dear friend, you were so smart and quick and in love with life. I still hear your voice in my head. Really, I’m enjoying this conversation with you, even though you’re dead, more than I enjoyed talking to her, and she was right across the table. Just wanted to let you know.
Copyright © 2017 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.