So in the months after John died I would often find myself thinking that I was no longer the most important person to anyone. I knew that I had lots of people who loved me but I was not number one to anyone. John would often call me during the working day just to say hi because I was his person, the one he would think of most, the one he cared about most, his best friend, but he was no longer out there.
There was no-one to come home to and share with when work had been tough, or to make parenting decisions with, or money worries, or to laugh with, that person who knew all my secrets or even just to share the plain old normal moments of life.
I lost track of the number of people who said to me “well at least you have Lucy” and who secretly I wanted to smack round the face – I did know deep down that they cared and were just trying to make it a little bit better but the angry, hurting side still wanted to smack them in the face. Yes I have Lucy and she has been my lifesaver, a reason to keep going, someone who I love completely and utterly and who makes me laugh every single day but one day Lucy will go out into the world on her own and hopefully become number one to someone else. Lucy is my child, she needs me to look after her, to provide for her– her role is not to look after to me, to support me – she cannot and should not fill the hole John left.
One of the things that breaks my heart most in this life is loneliness in people. In my mind everyone should have love, companionship, acceptance, safety in knowing that someone has their back. I get lonely because my husband died but for other people it may be divorce, or maybe never having met that special person or maybe they are married but are lonely within that marriage. I know that marriage/relationships are not for everyone and that many people are very happy being on their own and I am also not trying to say that marriage/relationships leads to total satisfaction/happiness/completeness because we all know that is not the case but I believe we were not created to live alone or be lonely. As a Christian I strongly believe that there are two things which matter above anything else, to love God and to love others.
I do get lonely and whilst the passing of time has eased the pain, so much, the loneliness is the one thing that still remains. However I am one of the lucky ones because whilst I may not be number one to anyone anymore I am part of amazing communities or as one of my friend would say “framilies”. Those communities include my work community, my church community and the community of people who became my friends when I moved back to Sheffield after uni.
Recently I have been having a bit of time out of work, a few weeks off to recharge my batteries, for various reasons. Nearly every single day of the time I have had off I have had contact from my work mates, rooting for me, saying they miss me, caring for me. I have the best work mates in the world!! My job is tough and stressful but those people have my back, and me theirs – they understand, they help me and they make me laugh. They share a big part of my waking hours and we are a great team. I could not do my job without them.
Common to most churches I am part of a smaller group within the church, a group of people that meets to together, to share life, the highs and the lows – we talk and pray together, eat together, laugh together. As a community we have been together for about 18 months, and at the beginning some of us knew each other, some of us didn’t, but I have come to love that group of people. We can call on each other when we need something be it practical or emotional; we share the good stuff of life and the hard stuff. Those people and that community make me feel less alone, they belong to me and me to them, and yes that will not be forever and people will come and go from that community but these are the people God has given me for now to be my “framily” and I am so very grateful for each and everyone of them.
Fifteen years ago I came back to Sheffield from London after finishing uni and working down there for a short time. I came back to all my friends having moved away and being faced with having to start all over again. I gradually got to know a group of people, all in their early 20s, who invited me to go skiing with them and that trip was the beginning for me of belonging to a community who are now the people who probably know me best. That community has evolved over the years, again as people have moved and life has changed for us all – we are a mixed bag of people who have been through so much together, death, babies, marriage, marriage difficulties, job struggles and losses, fertility issues, singleness, holidays, picnics, bbqs, brunches, but whatever is going on in my life when I get to sit round the table with those guys I know it is all ok because they are my safe people, they know me, warts and all, and they love me. It is not perfect, we are far from perfect, and over the years there has had to be a lot of forgiveness and grace, because we are nothing but a group of people who are very honest and real, but we are still together and in one way or another I think we will be for many years to come.
So yes I get lonely and maybe in some ways that loneliness will always be there because my person is no longer here and I have to raise our child without him but I am not alone because I have those communities, who love me and who love my child, who share our lives and open their lives to share them with us. Those people and those communities enrich my life so much that I am regularly overwhelmed at how grateful I am for them.
However I know it does not end there because I hate seeing loneliness in others, it is the one thing that without fail can reduce me to a sobbing wreck. I am lucky/blessed/fortunate because in terms of friendship and communities I have been given so much but I know that because I have been given so much I have to give back. I hope that I will always open my life and my home to people who perhaps don’t have what they would have hoped for out of life, who are lonely and who simply want to be loved and accepted – to give to other people what I have been abundantly blessed with because I know what a difference that can make when your life feels broken. For some life doesn’t work out how they hoped, not everyone gets to be part of a “normal” family unit, but I am constantly challenged by the fact that if we love and give to others whilst we cannot take away hurts and people’s pasts, or maybe even change their circumstances we can make it so much easier for them to deal with, and we can give hope – by loving them, by listening, by caring and by sharing life so they are not quite as alone.