The Giving of Loss
Bebe’s memory as told to Catherine and written down.
here are moments in life that as they are unfolding we know that we were privileged to witness. I felt like that not too long ago sitting in a diner in Upstate New York. Upstate New York is a place in my childhood that I go back to visit from time to time. There are friends and family still there. Sometimes I return for a wedding, or a funeral.
But the story I am telling is not mine. It is Bebe’s story that was told to me in the diner that day not too long ago. And yes, there was a funeral.
Bebe had been married once in her life. She shared a part of her life with a man that she had two sons with. Her eldest son had been my first love. When the fiery passion of our first love died, Bebe and I remained friends. There is such giving in loss.
And this is a story of love, just not one you might expect. Listen reader, listen closely.
Bebe and her husband divorced. Her husband went on to re-marry and Bebe went on to live her own life and new love. The former spouses only crossed paths when their son’s lives required the intersection to be traveled once again.
Then one day, Bebe received a call from her former husband’s wife saying that he was ill and dying. Something shifted. The intersection of their life moved back into focus once again.
Bebe reached out to a woman who was now married to her former husband. A woman who was experiencing a loss that Bebe had also experienced.
A strange and wonderful friendship began.
Two women married at different times to the same man. Two women who were losing a husband, a father to sons, a friend, an enemy, a lover, a soul-mate and in all the blurry lines, such clarity was found together.
Bebe also reached out to her former husband. They shared two sons together who would have to journey the loss of their father. The war was over, it was time for forgiveness and reflection. Bebe began to visit him and call him as a mother to her sons and a friend to a man she used to call husband. She would sit with him.
The wife of Bebe’s ex-husband did not mind these visits. There was no time for jealousy and territory. Bebe’s new friend, her ex-husband’s wife knew this. This story that Bebe shared in the diner felt like a light rain falling. The water and the story moved into soft puddles. Big, round, wet, soft puddles.
These two people, Bebe and her former husband, made peace with one another. Had Bebe’s ex-husband died quickly and suddenly, there would not have been time to cancel the debts, and forgive and forget. There is a moment that Bebe described in which the two of them with very few words cleared up many of the misunderstandings of the past.
And when the father of her sons passed away, Bebe held her sons close to let them grieve. And when the funeral ended, there stood two women left to remember a husband, a lover, a father to sons, an enemy, a soul-mate, a friend. They would meet from time to time in a coffee shop and share stories.
Bebe and her new friend found they shared so much of the same person, not someone very different at all. Funny, how we take ourselves with us in each relationship and although the names might change, we do not. Bebe and her ex-husband’s widow told stories together that helped them remember and forget, and remember again and forget again. And somewhere in their grief and memories, there was healing. The love lost, they found that each had found a friend. There is such giving in loss.