Last weekend we had another Gagglefest in The Valley. The ladies came south to comfort me. My daughter flew home to Oz and for the first time in my 64 years I will be living alone. The numbness is still there, I'm still not thinking or talking much about the reality of Steve's death. That is working for me now and might for a bit longer. I will deal with this when I know I can.
In the meantime, I think a lot about my relationships with others. And for the last two days, about my relationship with these seven other woman I call The Gaggle. We are not a typical group of friends. We came together in grad school at ISU. I at 50+ was the oldest, most were in their early twenties and thirties. From the cohort of around twenty, we formed a small group of middle-class, Midwest women. At first glance we knew we would be forever friends, I believe. However, it still surprises me that these bright, young women allow me a place in their lives. I feel blessed by each of them. I've concluded the best thing about our relationship is the equality. We met each other as equals, all degreed women seeking a Masters in education, so we could counsel students. There were no expectations of anyone, no neediness, no entitlement. We have shared many wedding, births and now death. And so it continues...these ladies are my friends, pure and simple. We all support the others no matter what, we enjoy each other's company, and admire and respect each other. We are blessed.
Last evening I met with another group of friends, all local ladies I had worked with at school. We, too, are a mixed group of ages and again I am the oldest. This seems to be a theme in my life. We all work or worked in education, are all from the area and are at various stages in our family life. We have much in common, we even vacation together occasionally. We all love the Coast and the beach life. In this group we share openly, our feelings, our joys and our fears. After years of being good friends with these ladies, last night was different. Last night we opened our hearts to each other in honesty and love. We shared pain, not just mine, with a trust that was beautiful. We are blessed.
I am not only blessed by friends, I have the greatest family, too! My sister, her husband and a wonderful friend of theirs have come into our home and remodeled our kitchen and bath in the last few months. They show up, work their tails off, clean up the mess and leave. No hassle, no fuss, just do it. Amazing, I tell you, amazing. And their work is beautiful. Stephen King and I had a difficult time accepting this at first. We could have done the work years ago, but were always too busy or too tired, then it was too late for him to do it. Cancer struck. It struck our family and friends as well. They wanted to help make things better, easier for us somehow. My brother-in-law decided they could remodel our tired 70s kitchen and our dangerously ugly bath. My sister sat us down one afternoon after Steve had chemo and explained their plan to us. She told us they needed to do something and hoped we would agree. She asked that we not deny them this blessing. We argued, it was too much to accept, too much to offer. She argued, they would be blessed by doing it. We couldn't argue that. I love my new kitchen and bath. Stephen King would have, too. We are blessed.