Thank You, J.R.

originally published online 9.29.16/edited from original version

Dear JMR,

Thanks for being you. I know you don’t know I’ve been writing about P’s death, because I’ve only told J. I don’t have the courage yet to admit to my friends, family and Facebook that I’m out of the widow’s closet ranting about death, life and all that comes with it.

If you had seen any of my previous posts, you’d know how much your question this morning at 7:25 a.m. normally pisses me off, but because I hide my hatred for those words behind a carefully constructed smile and ‘fine’ response, which you got as the throng of bustling 8th graders came rumbling down the hall and into their lockers, I didn’t let you know it.

But then you made the difference in a way only real friends can. You looked me in the eye with your teacher stare and asked, “No, really. How are you? You and J?” When I started to respond, you interrupted with an almost apologetic, “I think about asking you that every day, but I don’t want to intrude and I don’t want to bother you. But I do think about you every day.”

That, friend, is why you’re allowed to ask me how I’m doing whenever I want. Because you care. Because you listen. Because you’re honest and hear my sadness and my triumph behind my words. Because I don’t have to pretend to be anything but the imperfect, unbalanced, occasional hot mess that I am with you. Because you believed me when I told you the shitty things someone said and has done to me over the last five months, and because those comments angered you as much as they disgusted me. Because you wanted their address to go beat them up for me. Because your compassionate heart shines all the way through your words, even when you’re silent.

Because you’re an incredible gift to me, and the universe hasn’t been giving me a lot of those lately. So thank you. Keep being wonderful. You’ve made a difference.