Getting Bolder: The Gift of Friendship

 In Getting Bolder

“There are no strangers here;
Only friends you haven’t yet met.”
William Butler Yeats

When I first joined Sisters on the Fly, I had yet to experience many of the “firsts” of grief. The first birthday without him. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas. Oh…I knew that one was going to be tough. How my late husband loved Christmas! He listened carefully all year. If I was baking something and said the mixer was just too small to make a big batch of bread dough, I got a new Kitchen Aid. If I complained of

being cold, I got a full length Icelandic Blue Fox coat. What can I say? I was a princess and he dearly loved seeing the joy on my face when I opened his gifts.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I had attended several Sisters events and had made some wonderful, lifelong friends. I had no idea at the time how important my Sisters were going to become in my grief journey. The first week in December 2013, I thought I was doing pretty well, considering it had only been nine months since my husband died and my world was shattered. I made the decision to try to have as normal a holiday as I could. I put up the Christmas tree while I listened to carols on the radio. When I was finished, I popped some popcorn and put in my favorite holiday movie…White Christmas. I watched it by the light of the tree. I went to bed, proud of myself for getting through what I thought would be a heartbreaking experience.

The next morning, I walked around the corner and caught sight of the tree and crumpled. All my resolve and courage of the night before came crashing down around me and I was a mess. I crawled back in bed and pulled the covers over my head. I had a good cry. Then I had a good talk with myself. I couldn’t stay in bed “mattress surfing” forever. I made myself get up, get dressed, and I headed to town. I was in need of some hugs.

I lived in a small town and knew everyone. As I walked through the mall, I ran into friends right and left. I had plenty of hugs and support along the way. I wandered along till I found myself near Santa’s Village. There was Santa, with three small children in his lap…fresh faced, innocent, oblivious to the hardships that come with loss. They breathlessly told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. When their time was up, he handed them each a candy cane and they posed for the obligatory photo. As they walked away, I realized I was crying. The sweetness of the scene tugged at my heart strings and I missed my husband more than ever.

I looked over and met Santa’s eyes. He stared at me, obviously wondering what was wrong with this 60-year-old woman, sobbing as she watched him with the children. He seemed to be trying to make his mind up about something. Suddenly, he scooted over in the big chair, patted the seat beside him and smiled. I looked around to make sure it was me he was gesturing to, then dutifully moved forward. I sat down beside the Jolly Old Elf, being careful to keep my eyes averted. I knew if I made eye contact, I would lose it.

Tears streamed down my face as I tried to regain my composure. Santa never said a word. He just sat patiently waiting for me to get myself together. Finally, I sighed. “My husband died. I need a new heart.” I said, softly. Santa put his arm around my shoulder and drew me close. “I’m so sorry.” I could hear the pain in his voice. I sobbed uncontrollably for several moments. Finally, I dabbed my eyes with a wad of tissues I.
“Oh, my gosh,” I said. “I must be a frightful mess!” I was a little embarrassed.
“Nonsense,” he said. “You’re perfect!”
“You are too kind.” I smiled wanly and started to leave.
“Won’t you have your picture taken with me?”
“Really? I’d love too!

When the picture was done they handed it to me. I reached into my purse for my wallet.
“No, no!” Santa said. “This is on me! Thank you for stopping to see me today.” His voice
dropped to a whisper.
“Thank you for being real!” I whispered back.

The firsts are hard. The following weekend was the Christmas party for the Rocky Mountain Sisters. I didn’t know if I had it in me to go. I was drained and would have much preferred isolating at home. I knew it wasn’t good for me to do that so I went to the party. And there, my new Sisters remembered this was my first Christmas alone. They made it a point to come up to me, ask how I was doing, and give me lots of warm hugs. Diane, Zeke, Michelle, Laine, Lisa…Sister after Sister showed me such love. It made me realize what a gift friendship truly is.

Photo Credit: Kate Roy- Snapchic Photography

As we wrap up another year of Sisterhood, please take the time to reach out to Sisters you haven’t seen in awhile. Remember to thank your wranglers and your hostesses and the founders of this wonderful group. We have so many among us who are experiencing their first holidays alone. It isn’t easy to reach out and seek support when you are grieving. When time has passed after loss and you are feeling stronger, don’t forget to reach a hand back to those just starting the journey. Taking new Sisters under your wing and showing them the ropes is an excellent way to pay it forward.

Let me thank you for being here. For being a part of something big. For loving each other and lifting each other up. May you all have a happy, healthy Holiday Season and may the New Year be filled with an abundance of joy and laughter. May 2019 be the year you have more fun than anyone! May you continue to keep GETTING BOLDER!

With much love and gratitude,
Ginny
❤️

Post contributed by blogger, Positive Aging Expert & Motivational Speaker,
Ginny McKinney, SOTF #3537
Marshmallow Ranch Blog

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Showing 10 comments
  • Michelle Cummings

    Love you Ginny! ?

  • Patricia_Cofhlin

    I am new and have only attended a meet and greet and one sister function in Breaux Bridge Louisiana. I am looking forward to Christmas in the Ozarks December 7-9. I will be staying in a cabin as I do not have a camper. I am so looking forward to meeting new sisters. I am still trying to navigate this site, not a lot of luck, but I am getting there. Hi to all of my Sisters and I hope you have a Merry Christmas

    • Ginny McKinney

      Hi, Patricia! I hope you had fun at Christmas in the Ozarks! I love meeting new people, too. I hope our paths cross and we share a campfire someday! ❤️

  • Sharon Lieding

    I don’t know where to meet up or where to begin? I am getting over a very toxic relationship and feel so all alone!

    • Ginny McKinney

      Hi, Sharon! I think the first thing to do would be go into the members area here on the website. Look for the list of State Wranglers, find yours, and contact her. Just introduce yourself and ask her if she could help steer you towards some Sisters in your area. You can also go into the Members Directory and do a search for all the Sisters in your state. Pick out a few and reach out to say hello! Before you know it, you’ll know people! No one likes to feel alone and there are oodles of Sisters out there. ❤️

  • Celeste Peterson

    Ladies your stories are amazing, I look forward to joining you as soon as my trailer is finished, remodeling it and can’t wait to be apart of this wonderful group of women. I got a fishing pole for Christmas and going to order the rest online. Might make some myself. It’s been years sense I’ve fished. How do I get the calendar so I can make plans to join you. How do I find out where to meet up with you all. I’ll go to other states , but would love to go in California to start to get use to my trailer. Please help me. I joined in December. Happy new year to everyone.

  • Debbie Pickering

    I joined SOTF last fall, a few months after I lost my sweet husband, but I’ve not yet had the courage to attend an event. I’m not sure how, but I made it it through my birthday, his birthday, our 43rd anniversary and the holidays. Valentine’s Day sent me reeling but somehow I survived and now I’m ready for some adventure and camping with you all this year!

  • Lilly Stock

    I to have joined SOTF after the lost of my high school sweetheart and 42 years of being together.I love the camping part of the group and all the places they go. I have never pulled anything in my life behind my SUV.. After I go to a few events , thinking of looking into a van type camper.. looking forward to sharing a camp fire with SOTF…..

  • Ellen Lightner

    Such a heartwarming story💞 I’m new to SOTF, attending my first event in my first camper with my (also new member) 93 yr old mom. I lost my love in 2014 and am just now getting back on track. I know I’ll lose mom to one day but she says she wants to go camping..have experiences..as opposed to sitting on the couch trying not to die! Adventure we will!! Hope to meet so many on our late in life journey.

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