This year she had 24 intensely decorated trees in her home. Each tree is themed and amazingly gorgeous and creative. I don't even understand how she can imagine all the different things she does with them. Her home is now a venue for parties and she loves it. She is a people person and this is good for her.
We had a good visit; people sharing things that have happened, catching up. Several of us had someone we knew who had died recently. One of the women had lost both her brother and her mom in the past month. BOOM. She is only almost three years out from her husband dying and she really didn't need that. No one needs that. We have light chatter and we also have deep, caring conversations. We love each other but lead lives that rarely touch in the times between our evenings together. That's okay. Our grief is our bond and we trust each other with our emotions, whatever they may be. It's a safe place to be exactly where we are emotionally.
Here is a poem I wrote three and a half years ago, when we first started the widow's group. This is what we do for each other and the newly widowed who come to us for comfort.
Binding Up The Brokenhearted
Climbing down the crumbling sides of the gorge,
where the road has unexpectedly given way,
we move quickly to the women who lie,
injured and weeping, among the boulders,
each one broken and achingly alone.
We have brought clear water and bread,
cloths with which to bind their wounds,
eyes that understand and hands to comfort.
They are struck dumb, gazing up and around,
seeking a way out where there is none,
save climbing the jagged walls.
The women are too torn to stand so
we sink down beside them, one on one,
listening to their tales of sorrow:
days of confusion, nights full of tears,
minds shocked and numbed by the fall.
Their hearts bleed love.
We listen and nod, encouraging them
to remember, to tell, to hold on.
We remember this devastation
and, once out, have climbed back down
to help our sisters find the strength
they will need to begin the awful journey.
The air is dark and oppressive, rank with pain,
but suffused with a silent presence
and the faint whispers of familiar voices:
"You can do this. I am so proud of you."
"I am right here, with you and waiting."
"Love is stronger than death, my love."
"Breathe. Sleep and breathe."
"I love you still...always and forever."
For Cathy and all those recently widowed.