The WFF

8 Sep

ImageGroucho Marx supposedly once quipped, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”  Recently I became a charter member of a newly formed club for which I wish I did not qualify.  In fact, not one of its current six female members wishes she qualifies.  The WFF.  The Widowed Friends Forever.

 

My long-time friend and college roommate Joan started the club.  We had just reunited, via Facebook, of course, after 30-some years of separation.  We hadn’t had a falling out—life had just pulled us in different directions.  Oh, we had exchanged the odd Christmas card over the years, and I remember calling her one time late at night when I was beside myself with grief at the recent passing of my husband.  She and her husband comforted me as best they could.  What can anyone say to a 35-year-old widow who has only been married 13 years? 

 

Oddly, that’s what brought us back together.  I noticed one day on Facebook Joan was thanking friends for their condolences.  When I inquired, she shared her sad news:  John, her husband of 21 years, had just passed away.  I was shocked and stricken with a renewed grief for her—and for myself.  John’s death brought back my own loss full-force.

 

Joan and John, and Kyle and I, had dated our senior year of college at the University of Kentucky.  While Kyle and John weren’t roommates like Joan and I, they did live on the same floor of the same dormitory; we easily became a foursome.  After graduation, Kyle and I were present at their wedding; six months later, Joan played the piano in ours.  Looking back on those pictures, anyone can see how happy—and young—we all were.  How innocent and unsuspecting of what life had in store for us.

 

Actually, we had all been expecting John’s death a lot sooner.  A teenage cancer survivor, John’s health was still not stellar, and Joan confided he could succumb to illness and early death any time.  I remember feeling so sorry for them both and wondering how she could set herself up like that—marrying someone she knew she was going to lose too soon.  Ironically, Kyle died twenty years before John; none of us saw that coming.

 

So when she and I began following each other on Pinterest, it was no coincidence that we were pinning the same quotes about grief and widowhood.  It was simply another way in which we could exchange our thoughts and feelings on a topic we both now understood.

 

Apparently, other women were attracted to the same sentiments, and soon we were noticing comments on our pins from new widows we had never met.  One response led to another, and before too long,  Joan was inviting Sophie and Ronda, Peggy, and Rebecca into our little group.  One of them suggested the name, Widowed Friends Forever, and Joan added avatars of a family of meerkats to represent our new close-knit family, though we live far apart, from Australia and Washington State to Oklahoma and Indiana.  Soon we were sharing our experiences and encouraging one another with lessons learned along our varied paths of grief.  Being the “matriarch” of the group (I have been a widow the longest, though I am not the eldest), I often feel I have a lot to pass on to them, though time has dulled somewhat the sharpest pangs of my sorrow.  Sometimes, one of them will remind me too vividly of what I have already been through, and it brings it all back as if it were just occurring all over again.

 

Either way, we’re all here for each other.  And any others who recognize what makes us a family are welcome to cast their lot with us.  Joan, who keeps a blog about her new status, has encouraged others in the group to blog or at least write about their feelings, and we all exchange responses on Facebook as the mood strikes.  I know that writing has helped me, too; a few years ago I published a book of poetry, Bean Si Bones, to articulate what was otherwise inexpressible about losing the love of my life.

One time on Facebook I misread our “WFF” for “WTF” and had to LOL, so to speak. “WTF” seems quite appropriate for where our little group finds itself these days as the WFF, and I had to share the joke.  The others joined me in finding some gallows humor in the mistake. 

 

That’s ok, too.  Humor.  And sadness.  And raging.  And whispering.  And whatever it takes to get through this single qualification for membership in the WFF.  At least we are not alone, and that’s a lot more than I can say about my early widowhood back before email and Facebook and Pinterest.  And the WFF. 

 

Thank you, ladies.  We are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “The WFF”

  1. Luttrell, Jennifer (LRC) September 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    ☹ ☺

  2. Joan Lattimore Hockman October 25, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    No matter how many times I read this, it touches and warms my heart each time. And it rather amazes me to know that those wee hours I spent on Pinterest ever helped anyone besides me. WFF has given me a mustard seed of purpose these last six months, and I’m grateful for that and all the emotional support.

    I’ve imagined sometimes that the reflections of the rest of us could be painful to you. I hope that it is sometimes a helpful pain, a new working-through that yields something good. We all appreciate the sacrifice that joining this group must be on your part. We’re grateful for our matriarch! You can set our experience in a longer perspective, and that gives us hope.

    And a lot of grief is about hope, isn’t it? Hope in the next world comes easily to me. Hope in this world is something I don’t even expect. But that leaves me ready to be delighted when it comes.

    • brileyrebecca October 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      It amazes me, too, Joan. So ripe with possibilities but equally nourishing just as it is!

      Rebecca Luttrell Briley, Ph.D.Writing Director, OCUEdmond, OK 73013 USA “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” –F. S. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

      > Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 07:31:38 +0000 > To: brileyrebecca@hotmail.com >

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