If I seem almost normal now, it’s because of them.
I want to talk a minute about friends. It’s easy to take our friends for granted when life is on an even keel. They’re available but not necessarily necessary. You know what I mean? The joy is in knowing they’re somewhere out there, even when you’re all okay with not being together.
You might go a long time without seeing each other, without calling, without even thinking about one another. Life happens. Then someone calls, maybe even you, and you’re all connected and happy in each other’s company until the next time, which may be even longer.
Sometimes your friends are your neighbors and, because you see them more often, that everyday familiarity is often enough. Until something happens, maybe to you. Then they’re the people you didn’t know you needed. Until you do.
You’ve probably guessed that I’m talking about me here. Since Ed died on March 16, I’ve been without my partner, the love of my life. Our anniversary came and went. On July 14 we would have celebrated our 66th year as a married couple. We would have taken it for granted, never dreaming our life together would end, though all of the signs were there. Maybe not this year, or, if we were lucky, even the next, but the years have piled up. Our bodies, likewise, were moving along pretty recklessly into a steady erosion. The end of the line.
It was inevitable that one of us would leave the other; that we wouldn’t go together as we had foolishly hoped. One of us would be left grieving. In that last year I knew in my heart it would be me. He was failing, day by day.
Then it happened, as I’ve written elsewhere, and a couple of months afterward I finally worked my way home. My home — our home — is 350 miles away from most of our family, and though they would have liked for me to be closer, I needed to be here. This is where we lived together.
And this is where my friends come in. I live, as many of you know, on a small, fairly remote island. My house is an old cottage, and it’s been falling apart at the same rate as we’ve been falling apart, which is to say…