...... and explaining my "After".
This past weekend I went back to my home town for a party. It was a mini-reunion of sorts. Several people from our high school class came, as well as others from a couple of other years ...... and several spouses.
I loved high school ...... most of it anyway.. I don't know any teenager who loves all of it. But I enjoyed it.
And I really looked forward to attending this party. There were going to be friends there whom I hadn't seen in years.
Or maybe decades.
I had a fabulous time. Sometimes when friends meet up after not seeing each other for a very long time, it seems like no time has passed. That's how it seemed Saturday night. We just picked up where we'd left off.
You see, the place where we all left off was, of course, still in my "Before". We all knew who had children and who'd married who.
Most of us just had to catch up on where our children are now and who's changed careers.
It didn't really occur to me that there would be friends there who didn't know about my "After" ...... who didn't know that Jim died.
I'm not sure why that didn't occur to me ...... I guess that after 5 1/2 years I assume that it's just a fact ...... for others as well as for my family.
I'm not sure who was more surprised when the first person asked me about Jim. Of course, I tried to hide my surprise because I knew how badly she felt. I tried to treat the subject lightly, but how does one really accomplish that?
Each time the subject came up (I think there were at least 4 or 5 people who had no idea) I acted the same way ...... I swallowed my surprise and tried to assure them that it was OK that they unknowingly stepped on that land mine.
I think that I did ok, overall.
But there were several close calls.
I truly hate thinking a lot about those early days ...... the long months when I didn't know if I'd survive the pain ...... or if I wanted to.
I can't think about them for more than a few seconds before the tears form.
And I really didn't want to cry Saturday night. I didn't want my friends to feel any worse than they already did ...... just because they didn't know.
I don't enjoy having the power to ruin someone's day ...... or evening at a party.
I think we all had a very, very good time. And I'm thankful for my friend who planned the evening. It was so nice to see everyone and to catch up.
Even if some of the catching up was a little painful.
By the end of the evening I was struggling to say good bye ...... and not sob.
I felt a mixture of joy with seeing and connecting with everyone ...... and sadness with leaving them ...... along with the usual sadness that Jim wasn't there to share this with me.
He would have had a great time.
I look forward to our next mini-reunion.
Even if there might be some pain involved.
Because I am thankfully at a point in my life where the chance to experience joy ...... outweighs the pain more and more.
So even if it makes me cry (and it probably will) ...... I'll choose joy.