In the late 1950s and early ’60s, we lived in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
A wonderful city! And I still enjoy the fun memories of that era. But there is another side to my Edmonton memories.
Just before we moved 2,000 miles away from my home in New York state, we took a “last hurrah” trip to Vermont and Quebec with my parents. It was a great trip!
But after the trip, it was time to leave and begin an exciting new life.
As a young pastor and his wife, we quickly were involved and immediately found life-long friends. We loved our work!
And then the call came. My father had had a major heart attack and he may be dying.
He recovered that time. But every time the phone rang for the next year, I would ask myself with panic, “Is it my gentle, funny, kind Daddy?”
The call came one year later.
I felt alone with my grief because none of my new-found friends knew my father and what a wonderful person he was. Then, fortunately, I found a new short-term friend.
I can’t even remember her name. But like ships passing in the night, we met when we needed each other, then went on.
My new friend was from England, and I met her when she arrived at the door of the pastorate with a beautiful British cookie tin filled with cookies. We had tea and talked about how hard it is to live so far away from home.
Her visit was a real synchronicity because she also had recently lost her father. We grieved together and talked about life.
She also had been very close to her father. And she said something like, “If you love, you also lose!”
“But,” she added, “it’s worth it!”
At times of grief, I always remember those words. I thought about them again last Saturday when Randy called and said, “Liz passed away.”
Ten years ago, I didn’t know Elizabeth (Liz) Bonham. I didn’t even know Randy. But, then, like many other people, they came to water aerobics.
Pat recently called our water aerobics class “the salt-water gang”–a reference to our change from a chlorine-based pool to salt water.
“The salt-water gang” is very close-knit. We get to know each other well while we exercise and talk.
Liz was an interesting conversationalist. She had visited almost every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada because Liz had been a truck driver!
For 25 years, she drove the big rigs by herself, including in New York City and over the Rocky Mountains.
She not only drove, but she observed and learned. She even knew all about my hometown–Lowville, N.Y., population 3,000.
As I softly cried after the call, my daughter said something similar to what my English friend had voiced years ago.
“You’re lucky to have so many friends. But then it’s hard when you lose them.”
I was taken back to 1958 and realized that the grief is “worth it!”
So don’t be afraid to love. Care deeply! Make lots of friends. Love your family and your extended family.
And when you lose, always remember: “It was worth it!”
Write Marie Snider at firstname.lastname@example.org
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