Saturday, March 12, 2005

Trepidation about seeing an old friend

When I first started at university here in Germany in 1997, I had to take a German class to improve my language skills, before being able to attend lectures and courses. We were a veritable mix of nationalities: many Europeans, some Russians, some Africans, and a few Asians. On the first day of class I noticed a girl writing notes into a Day Runner, and immediately knew she was an American. So after the class I went up to her, and introduced myself.

Living in a foreign country, you have a tendency to appreciate meeting fellow Americans. She and I became fast friends. Not the thick-as-thieves type of friends, but we spent a lot of time together. For the two years she was here, we partied a lot, were jogging partners, and even went on a bike tour in southern France together.

When she went back to the US, we fell out of touch. Not that we didn’t like each other, but we just weren’t really a part of each other’s lives anymore. She came back to visit a few years later, and we met up for a coffee. And that was the last time I had personal contact with her.

We have a mutual friend, who has more contact with her. Through this friend I found out that my old American friend was getting married to her National Guardsman fiancé in February, 2004. He was due to deploy to Iraq in early March, 2004.

A few months later I was reading an article online, about an IED attack in Baghdad, and suddenly my heart dropped to my stomach. My friend’s husband was one of those killed. It’s hard to express what kind of emotions go through your mind, when you read something like that. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing someone, someone you had so many shared dreams and hopes with. Suddenly a whole part of her future was erased. After three months of wifedom, she was a widow.

That was over a half a year ago now. Their first wedding anniversary has passed, and I can’t imagine the bitter sorrow of that day.

And now she is coming to Germany again to visit, in an effort to concentrate on herself, and get her life back together. Today she will be arriving, and I will surely see her in the next few days.

If the events of last year had never happened, this would have been a really exciting event. But somehow I can’t help but have a sense of apprehension, when I think about seeing her again. Firstly, I really don’t know what to say to her about her loss. Secondly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about my boyfriend. It would seem too weird. Usually I would want to gush about him, but now it seems that if I mentioned him and his deployment, somehow I would be silently mentioning her husband and his death during his deployment. I don’t want to do anything that distresses her, and would like to offer the most comfort possible.

And I can't help but feel so self-centered to be worrying about this, when she has gone through so much.

I am quite nervous, but am also very much looking forward to seeing an old friend.


Blogger Sue said...

Although I have never lost a significant other, I have lost a sibling and can only say that I found it comforting when seeing friends that they acknowledged the loss, but at the same time didn't dwell on it. Be yourself. It's you she wants to see. The rest will come naturally but take your lead from her. If she wants to talk, or wants to hear about your boyfriend, she'll let you know. Hope it goes well!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I went from thinking "oh, I know exactly what you mean" to "holy crap, I don't even know what to say."

As you might remember, Heidi Sims still reads my blog (my friend whose husband died in Fallujah). There's nothing that pains me more than hearing her welcome my husband home. However, knowing her makes me a better person. I am more grateful for what I have, more certain of how important this War on Terror is, and more aware of how precious life is.

I honestly find that the hardest thing about being around Heidi is forcing myself not to start weeping. My heart hurts every time I see her, but she's so strong. Just be friends with your friend and let her direct the conversation.

Thinking of you...

12:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home