01 April 2010


I'm pretty quick to make friends. I like people. I like to talk. I'm not shy, I'm extremely social, and I enjoy different perspectives.

After John died, I found a lot of comfort in my friends. They took great care of me. They still do. I found it helpful to spend time with people who remembered and missed John, and people who know John from childhood or as a coworker or in other ways that I did not. I knew how much richness John had brought to my life, and it was sweet and comforting to know how much others had loved him, too.

It's been almost exactly three years since John died, and my life has changed a lot since then. I have had two different jobs and moved twice. I've met new people along the way, people who never had the chance to meet John, some of whom I consider to be among my closest circle of friends. I've reconnected with people from childhood or other parts of my life that didn't include John. And now, here in Portland, I'm forging an entirely new life of which John will never be a part.

This means that I'm at a point where many, if not most, of the people I interact with day to day never knew John, never knew John and I as a team, and can't compare and contrast my life pre/with/post John. When I realized that this shift was happening, I found it profoundly disturbing. Going through the intensity of falling in love with John, getting married, his illness and death: that defined me. Those years were the happiest and saddest of my life. It almost felt like people who'd never known John could not, by extension, really know me.

That's all changing. I now find that it's harder for me to be around people who knew John and with whom he and I had a relationship as a couple. Being around those people brings up memories of what it was like when John was alive and we were together, and while the memories themselves are happy, the contrast between the memories and my reality can be painful. On the other hand, if I'm with people who never knew John, I simply take our interactions at face value. I forge that friendship based on my current situation, which makes who I am and the life I've created feel somehow more legitimate. Nothing has to be modified to the new reality.

I hear a little tune in my head, something about silver and gold and old and new friends . . . anyone, anyone? So trite, but at this point in my life, so true.


Jen said...

I think it's "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold"

Sounds like both are gold to you

Mommy, Esq. said...

It's a Brownies/Girl Scout song that I sang when I was a young girl.

Anonymous said...

Second verse:

"Circle's round, it has no end, that's how long I'm going to be your friend."

Thank you, 4-H camp campfires.

CV said...

Wow - never knew the second verse but did learn the "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold" at girlscouts. Recently taught it to N, too, because, well, she's been having trouble breaking free of her 3 bestest daycare friends.

Mary Ellen said...

That would be the song from by Brownie Scout days:

Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And the other's gold.

(In a three- or four-part harmony as a round.)

Snickollet said...

Thanks, all.

I actually remember the song (although I did not know the second verse). I was just loathe to write it out because it seemed like a cheesy ending :).


winecat said...

Makes perfect sense to me. You have to refine yourself to yourself. Even though it's very hard to be with the people who knew you as John and Snick they still love you very much. I think you're all probably struggling with the adjustment but as the song says New and Old, Silver and Gold.

I'm so amazed at how far you've come, what incredible grow as a person and a mother you've exhibited it's wonderful to see.

3 years it just doesn't seem possible. ((hugs))

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I've been thinking a lot about you lately. Every time a baby wakes up at night or I'm trying to feed my twins and get them cleaned up and bathed before someone loses it, I think of you and how you do it all the time by yourself. You are my hero and while I didn't know John, I am sure he would be proud of the mother you are. (This isn't really related to your post but just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are!)

OTRgirl said...

This isn't the exact same thing, but I've thought a lot about shared memories: there are eras and places in my life where my husband is the only person who knows all of them. My college town. My mother and grandfather. The neighborhood where I grew up.

It would be so hard to recreate a life with a new person for whom those would be vague stories.

Yet I could also see it all as a fresh new start.

Thought provoking post.

Jen said...

It's been nearly two years for me, and I find that I am spending less and less time with the friends that my husband and I had together, and more with those I knew before him, apart from him, or after. Introducing a new man into my life has really highlighted this -- I feel very uncomfortable imagining bringing New Man into the tight circle of friends we used to have. And if I do, I know it won't be the same. That really hurts.