As she walked into the room, she didn’t look like all the other Scottsdale mom’s I had seen and met that weekend. She was not trying too hard; in fact it didn’t seem like she was trying at all. She didn’t have ridiculously tight clothing, nothing was augmented or enhanced, nor was she “done up” for a clearly ‘dress down’ kid’s pool party. She looked normal, and yet behind that she seemed ‘broken’. As the grownups huddled in the kitchen to avoid the sophomore pool party awkwardness, I sat and listened. I was a guest, this was not my party nor my people so I smiled, greeted and listened.
The story unfolded: she was a widow, who had just lost her husband to a stroke and she and her 16-year old son were lost in grief and shuffling through each day. She held it together until she said, “I drove his truck over here, it was the first time I’ve been in it since, …since.” the tears wouldn’t be held back.
I sat silently as the other women in the room moved towards her. The other man in the room left, to get some tissue, a strategic retreat, and I sat still, watching. One of the women was a widow and in a knowing way she held her. They reassured and cared, but even then, there was no cure for the absence of the one she loved.
On my flight home I thought about the starkness and yet sweetness of that void; a man so present, so significant, so tactile and substantive that the void of his presence left a staggering hole. I thought to myself about how sad it is to lose someone so significant and I was equally comforted by the beauty of a life so intertwined and so interdependent that the grief was/is debilitating. There is a beauty in this sort of tragedy that Tennyson attempted to capture when he said, “’Tis better to have loved and lost. Than never to have loved at all.” Though he was likely talking of a romantic breakup rather than the death of a life partner, the sentiment is true. Would we all love so well, so richly, so interdependently that the absence of that love would require re-learning how to live?