Several Christmases ago, several of my grandmother's college friends came over after dinner and sat and cackled for several hours. This was not a tradition. We knew they had made the special holiday trip that evening as it was the first Christmas after my grandfather had passed away, and his absence was felt like a circus with no clowns. So my grandmother's friends came and played the clowns and their wry cackles served to deafen any moans of grief that Christmas. My grandmother, who is only funny in that she is so overbearing it becomes a comical shtick, has the funniest friends on earth. They stay up late and party. They bust balls. They sneak into each other's bathrooms and come out to the party in each other's bathrobes. They have been there for my grandmother in a way that any widow would be grateful for, but sometimes I wonder if their kind company says something bigger about dependency, about singularity, maybe about me. ***
Since our wedding two years ago, two of my dear girlfriends have fallen out of touch with me. I have called, e-mailed, extended invitations to dinner parties. I have self-examined, I have grieved and I have prayed. This was not the way it was supposed to go. I was the first of my close high school, college, and Boston friends to get married. I had vowed to keep in close touch with these dear friends, lest I give them reason to believe that I was too busy having wild married jungle sex to keep up with them. I have made an effort to stay in the loop, even when I have felt like my brain and heart were suddenly split in half, having to stay in my husband's sphere of activity, as well. But these dearhearts have drifted. We are now incommunicado for reasons I do not understand. I am powerless to change the situation, and yet I am plagued with a deep sense of loss over my inability to entice these friends back into my proverbial tea party of friendship.
One day, maybe sooner than I think, I may find myself a widow. John may die before I do. I am not obsessed with this harsh possibility, but I do think about it every time I let John pump my bike tires for me, or I realize that he is my newsfeed on current events for the week. I do not consider us co-dependent. In fact, I am still working to need him more. Sometimes I want to pace the room a few times and make sense of my dilemma - my dilemma - before I let him catch wind of my deliberations. And he, well, he has need of me all the time, but sometimes I do not realize that my sitting next to him on the futon, my feet propped on his lap, laughing at "Bernie Mac" re-runs is fulfilling a need for him. The need to be doing nothing, which is actually something very meaningful, with one's love.
I wonder for which of my friends I will serve as widow support. I wonder which of my friends I will be wrapping my feet in baggies for, stuffing my feet into boots for, heading out into the cold on Christmas night for, just two months after the loss of their spouse. I wonder which friends would be my widow support, and if I am loving them well enough now that there would be no need for special widow resuscitation. Am I loving my friends well enough now that their visits and gifts of laughter one Christmas day in the future would not seem novel, would not seem motivated by pity. Am I dependent enough upon myself that the loss of both my husband and friends in the future would only have me in a bathrobe if I had stolen it from someone else's bathroom at a party?