When you’re a young widow, you need different kinds of friends.
You need the people that have known you since you were a little kid – the Lauren that existed years before “Lauren and Tim” were a thing. These friends still think of you as “Upton” instead of “Mauldin”. They’re a little pissed at everything your husband put you through, even though they did like and him and miss him in their own way. These friends remind me of the self I was before.
You need newer friends, people that knew you as married but were never close to your husband. Maybe they weren’t even close to you before you were widowed. Often these friends are younger, and haven’t settled into the monotony that is marriage and parenthood. We go out drinking and laughing, and they bring me into a lifestyle that I mostly missed in my 20’s. They might even put Tinder on your phone or try to nudge you towards cute single men at the bar. These friends make me realize the lighter side of life, and give me careful nudges forward.
This past weekend, I needed a different group of friends – Tim’s friends. Sometime in the ten years that I’ve known them, they’ve morphed from his friends that I didn’t quite understand to my friends that I crave being around at times. These are the people who miss him as much as I do. They have the courage to conquer this loss alongside me, something his family has not done. When it came time to spread his ashes and say goodbye, these were the people I wanted with me.
Where we went, what was said and what we did is something between this group of friends, myself and Tim. I will say that it takes a large amount of courage to face the foreboding monster that is grief. It’s easier to move forward with life as if that person you miss so much never existed, and I know plenty of people who have chosen that path when it comes to my late husband. Everyone who stood with me on Saturday afternoon showed so much strength and courage. I will be forever appreciative and thankful to know them.
When we relaxed at the rental house later that night, it was both felt and said that we wished Tim was there. He would have loved this weekend with his favorite people, favorite liquor and one of his favorite cities. Since he wasn’t there, I loved it for him. I stayed up later than my body might have liked. I took (multiple) shots of this awful liquor, because seeing the terrible faces people made after drinking it was something that quite delighted Tim. I spent a lot of time sitting back, warm with a friendly wash of alcohol and peace, listening to these great people tell stories about the Tim they knew before he was my husband. There were a substantial amount of tears, but I definitely laughed more than I cried.
On Sunday evening I sat on the freezing back porch, looking out into scattered stars over the dark mountains, and nodded when my friend said that she wished he was here this weekend. Maybe it was the bottle of champagne or the Malort or everything, but I saw him all weekend. Saw him standing at the edge of the group, squinting his eyes in laughter and clutching a tumbler of Jameson. Saw his sheepish look when I walked to where the boys talked, knowing they were scheming up something inappropriate. Felt him standing next to me when I put my hands on the wooden deck railing and looked out over the mountain.
I nodded when she said that she wished Tim was there, but I should have said that he was.