In my Giving Up post I shared some wisdom from my daughter regarding my need to take some time to pursue personal interests and friendships outside my home and family. It didn’t take long to search the activities of our local libraries to find a writer’s group to join. I’m very excited to participate and have the opportunity to work and talk with local writers.
After my talk with Melody I asked God to help me find some activities in which to involve myself. I suppose I asked Him in a roundabout way to help me make friends here, although I wasn’t specific because I have that whole lack-of-trust thing. I never really hold my breath that I’ll make any close friends because I don’t think many people ‘get’ me. Atticus is my closest friend and I know he doesn’t understand certain things, although he tries, yet he always accepts me even when he doesn’t fathom certain idiosyncrasies of mine. I treasure this about him — it helps me feel safe and loved, but I know people such as he are rare.
I used to be very independent and self-sufficient. I was always proud of that. After Atticus and I married, there wasn’t a need to do so much of those things and very quickly he and I were doing everything together. We never spend time apart. It isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but we rely only on each other, which can lead to bad things…we can’t always depend on each other being there. As my disease advances I count on him more and more to help me walk a semi-straight line from point A to point B, and recently I realized I need to reclaim all the autonomy I can while I can still have it. I need to learn what my limitations are and I really can’t do that when I’m always depending on Atticus.
I’ve begun doing more on my own and at the outset I felt scared and unsure — even just to drive myself — but it turns out I can do plenty and get around fine with a little bit of ingenuity.
Earlier in the week, on Scout’s birthday, she and I went grocery shopping — just the two of us. It was very early morning and not many people were out yet. When we arrived at Aldi there were just a handful of cars in the parking lot and I was so grateful because I knew it would mean a basically empty store and few people to have to navigate around. When we entered the store I could see a few retired couples and two women with two small children. Scout and I made our way up and down the aisles, filling our cart as we went, and she waved and giggled with the two other children. As I was finishing up the shopping Scout started singing that it was her birthday and one of the two women asked me if is was really her birthday, then wished her a happy day and asked her some questions. She was so kind to my daughter and I was so pleased that Scout had someone else wish her a lovely birthday. As I turned to keep walking, I felt God nudge me and tell me to talk to the woman.
“Uh, no way, God. I’m not talking to a stranger at Aldi,” I replied and walked on.
“You asked for help and I’m giving it,” He continued.
“I’m not doing it.” I think I heard him tsk, tsk, tsk, but maybe that was just the guilt I felt over arguing with Him. It took a while to unload our overflowing cart, but just as the cashier was finishing up our purchases, the mom and her kids entered the line right behind us.
“You need to talk to this woman,” He nudged once more.
“No possible way and I talking to a stranger at Aldi.”
I pushed my cart to a counter and began putting my groceries in bags. The mom paid quickly, but seemed to linger behind me. I kept packing up frozen peas. All the while, God kept insisting that I speak to her and I kept saying no, no way, not gonna happen.
I watched them head toward the exit and then blurted out, “Are you homeschoolers?” The mom turned and came back and we started talking. It was weird — it felt like an instantaneous connection. We chit-chatted back and forth about homeschool, kids, church, etc. I told her I have ten kids, she said she had nine. The woman she was with came up to us.
“She won’t tell you this, but she lost her husband recently.” I was floored and instantly heartbroken for this mother of nine — now a widow trying to make a life for herself and nine children. I told her how sorry I was, and that I, too, had been a widow and understood what losing a spouse truly meant. We exchanged names and phone numbers and her little daughter asked us to come to homeschool co-op that afternoon. What a love!
I did actually call Maria the next day and she was so glad and relieved that I phoned her. We talked — she asked questions about grief, loss, healing, parenting without a husband — so many things. She asked about me and my life so I gave her the brief outline – widowed with a newborn, 16 years in an abusive marriage, the fight for our lives and freedom, the gift of meeting my Atticus. We’re going to make plans to get our families together for a game night soon.
Maria knew, as I did, that our meeting was a God thing. My heart is so burdened for her and her children as they try to face each new day in a situation they didn’t ask for and do not want. The really cool thing is that I don’t feel like I was put there to just help her. Instead I feel that it’s a mutual thing — you know, a friendship.
I’m glad I was eventually in tune with what God was saying and I’m thankful He doesn’t give up on stubborn me.
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