This is a topic that has weighed heavy on my mind lately, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I work though it in writing. Here goes nothin’ . . .
Jeff had a lot of friends. What’s more–he was particularly adept not just at making friends, but at keeping them. Jeff had lifelong friends from elementary school, high school, college and beyond–some of whom he contacted regularly and others just from time to time, but all of them, without exception, were good friends–meaning they were responsive and genuinely cared about him and could fall into easy conversation regardless of the time lapse between contacts. Throughout the years, Jeff’s friends evolved into "our" friends as "his" friends benevolently adopted me, or at least accepted me, as part of their friendship with Jeff. It never really occurred to me that his death would change all that.
After Jeff died, I made a calculated effort to remain friends with "his" friends and mostly for one reason: these people know things about Jeff that I do not. They know him from a perspective and in a context that I do not. They have shared experiences with Jeff that I did not share. So, they are the exclusive keepers of very valuable information about my children’s father that may be either instructive, comforting, confirming, or otherwise useful to them someday. I figured, that if I remained friends with Jeff’s friends, I would preserve that nexus between my children and their father that I could not otherwise preserve or even simulate, and that by fostering these friendships, Jeff’s friends might be willing to someday share stories about Jeff with my kids without it seeming unnatural or contrived.
Well, let’s just say I think I may be wrong about that. Despite my efforts to remain connected to "Jeff’s" friends, I have had only isolated and temporary success, at best. I have sent e-mails and cards, blog comments, Myspace messages, and phone calls to 8 or 9 targeted individuals. Responses come slowly, if at all, and when they do, they generally do not invite further discourse. Two individuals have responded only to say they are too busy to respond but that they are glad the kids and I are doing well . . .
I don’t mean to complain--I know people are busy. Believe me–I have four kids and two jobs (if you count the band) and three household employees and vehicles and a yard and house to maintain and . . . I get it. I just took for granted how far out on the periphery of Jeff’s inner circle I am now that he is gone. I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, I didn’t have personal relationships with any of these people but for the fact I was Jeff’s wife, so it probably seems either desperate or creepy for me to pester them now that we have no common denominator. But, it makes me sad because I feel like if these friendships die on the vine, my kids will have lost a meaningful connection to their father.
And, I have to admit–I’m sad for me, too. Jeff’s friends, as a class, are some of the neatest and most interesting people I’ve ever known. It would flatter me immeasurably to think they would choose me as a friend independent of Jeff simply because I genuinely like them as individuals and like talking to them and being around them–they are smart, funny, and of unfailing good character. Who couldn’t stand to have a few friends like that?
Well, the point of this blog isn’t to bemoan the fact I have no friends of my own (I do–Hi, Liz!), but I felt it worth making the foregoing observations to put what follows in the proper context . . .
I was getting discouraged by my unsuccessful attempts to convert "Jeff’s" friends to "my" friends when I received an e-mail this week out of the blue from one of my former sorority sisters. (Editor’s Note: Yes, I was in a sorority in college-- Delta Delta Delta. For those of you who are surprised, I’ll tell you I was also a high school cheerleader and a finalist in the Miss Nebraska Pageant. . . there, my public humiliation is complete!) Anyway, my sorority sister, Michelle, had recently had her will prepared by Andrew who is an attorney in Omaha and a college friend of mine. Andrew learned Michelle was a Tri-Delt and mentioned to Michelle that he knew a Tri-Delt once and as they chatted they realized it was me that they knew in common.
Michelle gathered enough information from Andrew to find me on-line and e-mailed me. Since last Tuesday, Michelle has connected me with nearly a dozen of my former college friends. Today, I e-mailed two of my very best college friends and roommates after losing touch with them for nearly 15 years. I’m desperate to hear back from them, and hope news of Jeff’s death (they both knew him and were even involved in our wedding) will not make responding too uncomfortable or awkward. (I’m beginning to appreciate that death does that sometimes).
So, the happy ending is that just as I was starting to feel sorry for myself for losing "Jeff’s" friends, "my" friends found me. I think it is more than a coincidence and I marvel that they would miraculously re-enter my life just when I needed them most. So, this blog is for them and in thanks that they reached out to me despite the fact we haven’t talked in 15 years and despite the fact they are busy and despite not knowing the terrible news I would introduce and despite any other excuse they might have that would easily justify simply remembering me vaguely and passing me by. Thank you, thank you, thank you–it means more than you can possibly know.
So, that’s all. Until next time. . .