If you ever read the comments to my posts (and it’s not like that should be overwhelming…), you’ve probably seen some from “Montreal Babe.” MB is someone with whom I’m ‘real’ friends – somebody I actually know in real life. She’s in hospice at the moment; the result of a combination of a terrible car accident and the lack of a seat belt. MB was not a healthy woman to start with, and now she’s in hospice.
As I wrote in her CaringBridge guestbook this morning I spent a little time reflecting on our relationship, and how it evolved over time and as a result of my divorce.
Although I didn’t count her among my closest friends, MB and I were colleagues for a number of years. Several years ago she became a widow. Mr. MB died suddenly, and it was a horrible shock to our entire faculty. MB had many health issues, including diabetes, and she needed and received a great deal of support from her husband. Mr. MB was pretty much an institution at our school – dropping MB off in the morning, helping get her scooter into the building (due to her many surgeries as a result of the diabetes, she quite often couldn’t walk), and picking her up at the end of the day. Not only did we know him, but many of our students did as well. When he died, it was a loss that was mourned by our entire community. Within a year MB had to have another operation, and ended up in a nursing home for a number of months. MB – childless, now a widow, with all her family living out of the country – needed people to take care of her.
The faculty stepped up to the plate. People visited her, covered her classes, made sure her bills got paid. She got phone calls and emotional support. When she came out of the nursing home she knew that she had friends to take care of her – physically and emotionally.
But, in the end, you’re still alone. After some time you still have to get used to the empty house, the Sundays alone and the quiet. There are times you love it and times you can’t stand to hear the nothingness. MB understood that.
When Mr. Ex moved out, I found a somewhat surprising ally in MB. Many, many of my friends came to my support, but, frankly, I didn’t find that surprising. These were people with whom I had been close for many years – friends who had been at my wedding, college friends, junior high friends, for heaven’s sake. Many were friends who had known about the ups and downs of our marriage for years and had been there for me in the past. They certainly came to my aid – I expected them to, and I was not disappointed.
But Montreal Babe was the one who really stunned me. She, above anyone else, understood the loneliness and the sudden disorientation of losing one’s partner. She knew how hard it was to navigate single life after a long-time marriage. While our circumstances were different in that her partner didn’t choose to leave, and I got dumped, she understood that I was going through a difficult time and needed some encouragement to get through it all.
And she was happy to provide it.
She emailed me; she called me. She arranged movie dates and offered theatre tickets. She religiously read this blog – and, even more religiously – pestered me to keep writing when there was too much time in between blog posts. She encouraged me to write, and the positive feedback from her meant even more because she was an English teacher. She commented here and she Facebooked me.
In short, she made sure that I knew that I wasn’t alone, that I would get through this, and that I have a lot to look forward to.
I am grateful and I will miss her.