A story of loss and friendship

This past week my best friends Becca and David made an impulsive road trip from Wisconsin to Vermont with their incredible five and a half year old daughter to help me sort out my garage. Sounds odd, but there’s a good reason.

My husband, Michael, died very suddenly and unexpectedly a little over two years ago. I have struggled to keep going, as anyone would, but my personality is particularly ill suited to facing problems. Consequently I have processed only a very small portion of Michael’s belongings. The garage was a big part of his domain. It contains not only the expected things like lawn equipment and power tools but also electronic components, textbooks, and unfinished paintings. Neither he nor I was born with the gene for tidiness; the path from the side door to the roll-up door was less than a foot wide in some places.

David and Becca got into town very late Friday night and went straight to a hotel. They arrived at my place Saturday morning. I went out to the driveway to greet them and David herded Becca and me into the garage without even entering the house first. He was on a mission.

With David leading the charge, we completed in less than one day what I had not even tried to begin in two years. They were so considerate of my feelings. They checked with me often to make sure it wasn’t getting too rough for me. They understood and didn’t press when I chose to hang onto some really strange things. I will probably give them up some day, but I am not ready yet.

In return for this incredible gift of time, effort, support, and love, I gave David some of Michael’s hobby supplies. They had many similar interests. They should have been best friends, but they were both too shy to open up and now David is really feeling the loss. Somehow this breaks my heart even more than my own grief. They would have had so much fun together. Currently David is working on a garden irrigation system in his backyard and he says that he often thinks of Michael while puzzling over some of the problems he needs to solve. He is sure Michael would be able to come up with solutions. He told me that when the project is complete, he will add a brass memorial plaque dedicating it to Michael.

The rest of Becca and David’s too-short visit was spent doing fun things with their little girl and our mutual friends, like a real vacation. I didn’t want them to go home and they didn’t want to leave, but that’s how it goes.

During the clearing out we uncovered one of Michael’s unfinished art pieces, a stained glass adaptation of a large mid 20th century abstract painting. David packed it very carefully so that he could take it home with him and complete it for me. He asked me if it would be “too much” if he added Michael’s name to the work, like a signature. I thought it was a beautiful gesture and told him I would love that, on one condition: that he put his signature on it too. For me it will be a place where they can always be together.