My Friend’s Grieving Husband Knew Who I Was

I’ve never felt more recognized as a person.

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When I was in 4th grade, a new elementary school opened up in between her home and mine. She lived on one side of a major road. I, on the other. Going to Shannon’s house included riding my bike across a desert field that ran by the junior high. It became well traveled.

She was my one of my best friends from 4th grade until well into our college years. We did weird things. We listened to Beatles albums when everyone else listened to Madonna. We painted. Her, beautifully. Me, like a bull in a china shop. Neither one of us ever had a date for homecoming. So we stayed at her house and watched Gone With the Wind. All four years of high school.

I was a bridesmaid in Shannon’s wedding 22 years ago. I had met her husband, Lee, a time or two before and a few times after that.

Shannon and I drifted apart after her marriage but there was never a moment we didn’t love each other. We just lived different lives. Still, she was my childhood and I was hers.

Tonight, another close friend of mine and I attended the funeral for our childhood best friend. We laughed, we cried (and I mean the ugly kind) and we got utterly confused about what was happening about 50% of the time. Structure, apparently, confuses Nicole and me.

On our way to our cars, Nicole and I saw Lee and stopped to offer our condolences. Upon seeing me, in a dark parking lot, he hugged me and, without me introducing myself, said, “Oh, Vanessa. I’m so sorry.”

This grieving husband knew who I was and offered me condolences on the loss of my friend. His wife. After 20 years of not seeing me.

I told him there was nothing to be sorry for. That he gave her the life we wanted for her. We watched for the last couple decades from the sidelines and it was beautiful. I thanked him for giving my friend a happy life she always dreamed of. And he did. He really did.

I am still confounded by this man’s compassion for his wife’s friends. I have never felt more significant in my whole life than to be recognized by this man. In his time of need. He made us feel loved.

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My beautiful friend, Shannon, and her husband Lee. From her Facebook.

I implore you one thing. Never again use the excuse that you’re “not good with names.” Put in more effort. Remember people. Honor them. Make them important. Pay attention. Because it’s a beautiful moment when such a simple thing as knowing the name of your departed wife’s childhood friend can be that meaningful.

Lee gave me the gift of knowing how much I meant to my friend simply by knowing who I was.

It was the closure I needed to say goodbye and to know that our friendship was one of the truest things I’ll ever have, no matter the time or absence of physical presence in each other’s lives.

*Shannon was a remarkable artist. Instead of linking to other articles of mine you can read, I ask you to please consider supporting abused children through Free Arts of Arizona. She would have liked that.

Written by

Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. IG: vanessaltorre

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