I am visiting my Arkansas girl this week. She introduced me to Thera, a woman in her small town. Thera is lovely, strong and spry. Her eye makeup is flawless, and all of her seems to radiate in shades of lavender and soft blue.
Thera and I have heard of one another, prayed for one another, but we just met for the first time.
She and I are much the same. Widows. My husband died within days of hers. We've each just passed the first anniversary. Our paths are very similar.
It's just that she's forty years older than me.
My hand fit nicely into hers as we chatted. My skin is soft with moisturizer, hers is soft with life.
"I have thought of you so much this year," I told her.
"And I, you. Except I think your journey is harder than mine."
"I'm not sure about that," I rebuttal. I resist the measurement of one grief against another.
"I am sure. You have two small children."
This I cannot disagree with. It's true. I do.
She says, "But, God says his way is perfect, and you can't get much better than that."
Her careful words rest well with me. She isn't offering me a bandage for a broken heart. She is offering me truth that seems safer since she has to lean on it as hard as I do.
"Yes, you're right. You can't get much better than perfect. But..." I pause. I gather myself. "Don't you just miss him sometimes? Just plain miss him?"
Her eyes soften; we mirror one another. Decades mean nothing.
"Oh, honey. In our later years, I began to think about what my life would be like without him. I knew he was going to die before me, and I had time to think about it. But I never imagined the constant, cold, to my core, deep, deep ways that I miss him. That doesn't go away, does it?"
"No, I don't think it does."