We stood across the sidewalk from one another at kindergarten drop-off. She is a tall, slender blond with lovely accessories and a shining smile.
"I heard you and I have something in common," she said.
"We do?" As she walked toward me, I suddenly connected the dots. Several of the teachers had told me about the young woman on staff who is a new widow. I smiled gently. "Oh, you're the one they've been telling me about."
She stepped beside me so graciously, so carefully. "I am. And I'm sorry you're in this club."
"I hate it."
"I hate it too. My husband died 15 months ago, and I wish I could tell you the second year is easier. Everyone's telling you it will be, right? I have to tell you, it sucks in a whole different way."
Her advice reminded me the honest perspective I've received from other patients who have undergone something before me, whether it was surgery to remove my wisdom teeth or a scheduled C-section to birth my son.
Sometimes it's good to hear someone tell me how it's really going to go.
I suspect when Christmas Eve arrives this year, I won't wake up and think, "Phew. Wow. That was a rough year."
Perhaps it is a recipe of time, processing, therapy, and grace that will heal my heart.
Perhaps I will realize someday that this week was easier than last week, this month more than last month, this year more than last year.
But probably I shouldn't hang my hat on an anniversary. As if I'll turn a calendar page, and voila. It gets better today.
That's probably not how it will go.