Recently I had a wonderful evening with four wonderful friends. You might be thinking “wow, you were at dinner, how normal” but I can assure you, there is nothing “normal” about us. We met in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
When my husband died I was inundated with email and texts of support. But one stands out in my mind. I received a Facebook message from a girl called Orla, who told me her husband had died suddenly just 24 days before Geoff. He was 36, and she too had been pregnant (with her 3rd child, still don’t know how she does it!!). At the time I discarded the mail, obviously in my head my pain was so much worse than hers, but a mutual friend told me I really should go for coffee with her. We had our first “widow” date in Dundrum in 2012, and I just remember thinking to myself that Geoff had most certainly sent her to me! We realised we had the most messed up bond, and it was so comforting to know she “got it”. Her hubby had died suddenly at home, and she was pregnant with their son. They already had 2 year old twins. We decided to make it a regular thing, and that we did!
I’m sitting at Geoffs grave one day and a girl comes over to me and asked me quite sweetly “Hi, are you Sinéad, I’m Mary”. I had been on Joe Duffy not long before that and she had heard me (I know, I know, I’m not even 70 yet). Initially I’m thinking “here we go, and other one who wants to tell me they’re so sorry… blah blah” but she then informed me her hubby was buried just opposite Geoff (same row!) and he had died suddenly just 18 days before him!!!!(At this point I’m looking for the camera somewhere!) I remember feeling so sorry for her loss, completely forgetting about my own for that split second. She was just 34 when he died. I told her about my wonderful new friend Orla…..
Orla had met the lovely Joanne, again through mutual friends, who’s hubby had died after a 5 year battle with cancer in 2009, at 30. A Mom of 1, to a bouncing 14 month old and again, pregnant with no.2 when he died. They had become quite close and she suggested we all go for dinner together. As it turned out my godmother also knew her, and had mentioned her to me soon after we had met, such a small world we live in!
The 4 of us met, like a weird blind/double date type thing in Fillies in Leopardstown. It was like we had always known each other. We talked/cried/laughed and the one thing we had in common was our ridiculously dark sense of humour, which no one else got. We all live within 15 minutes of each other. Scary I know, but yet incredibly comforting.
Since then we meet on a regular basis and have our own little “Merry Widows” whatsapp group to keep in touch and organise our next date. We even took the plunge and went on a night away in January together, and it was one of the best nights I have had in the past 4.5 years.
I cannot begin to describe how lucky I am to have these incredible women in my life. They have listened to me rant, given me advice, and most importantly, let me feel how I want to feel. There is no judgement, no uncomfortableness, nothing. They make me feel sane. It’s just 4 women, who have shared the most unimaginable pain you could ever think of, 4 women who had their whole lives ahead of them with their hubbies, 4 woman who have pieced their broken life back together again and have lived to tell the tale, 4 women who, to the naked eye, are absolutely amazing at looking “normal” but I can assure you, there is absolutely nothing “normal” about us!
Mary had the most perfect words to describe us back in January:
“In Autumn 2011, through a serious of serendipitous meetings and bizarre coincidences, I met 3 extraordinary women in their early 30’s all of whom had recently lost their young husbands. All 3 were pregnant when their husbands died and although I had not experienced the unbelievable pain that comes with giving birth without your baby’s Dad in the world, the 4 of us still formed an extraordinary bond. Almost 5 years on we have laughed, cried, been unbelievably irreverent and gone through every up and down that grief throws at you. I’m privileged to know these three fantastic women as we’ve healed together. Here’s to all of us having wonderful futures, creating new memories while never forgetting the very special men that are gone but never forgotten. You’re an inspiring bunch. Lovely to have an evening away with you all. x Mary”
How lucky we are to have met each other, how privileged I am to be able to call them my friends.