You’ve Got a Friend In Me

Posted by Danny

There have been times this past year that I’ve said I have ten wives.  Before Lisa died, she said, “I don’t worry about our children.  We have surrounded ourselves with really good people who will care for them and help you raise them.”  She was right.  

I find that it’s usually easier to talk to women about Lisa.  I can walk into Panera and, without looking, find one of her girlfriends or acquaintances who will immediately bring up her name.  Some people might think that would be difficult.  It’s actually nice.  The more I become comfortable talking about Lisa and the different place she has in my heart and in our lives, the faster I heal.

Surprising to some might be the way that my buddies have also supported me through this pile of manure.  They reminisce with me about the times we had together. Some have cried with me.  I’ve receive a lot of manly bear hugs and pats on the back.  I think these friends of mine are extraordinary.  

Unfortunately, I believe that too many men fit the stereotype – less open and less able to deal with difficult emotional issues.

How often do men take the time to build the kinds of relationships that allow for that sort of intimate connection outside of their marriage?  How often do men talk about their fears or really, I mean really, talk about their faith?  I don’t mean standing up in front a men’s bible study with bobbing heads agreeing with the leader’s suggestions.  I mean wrestling with our deepest doubts.  I mean sharing our biggest, most outlandish dreams that may likely never come true.  There’s a vulnerability in that – perhaps a perceived weakness.  We should already know what we’re doing with our lives.  We should already know what we believe.  Many of us don’t. 

What’s behind our inability to talk to each other and support each other? 

Jesse and I were moderately close before Lisa died.  We cracked on one another and often teamed up at family events, playing off of each other at the expense of Lisa, a parent or another unwitting family member.  But when he moved in and was faced with returning home some nights to find me sitting on the couch in a really dark place, it was impossible for him to go grab a couple of Oreos and turn on SportsCenter.  He was faced with the unraveling of a brother.  And I have to hand it to him, he didn’t back away.  He listened and listened and listened.  He heard the same stories time and time again.  He asked questions and pushed.  He held me accountable at times.  He worked hard at empathy, playing on past times in his life when he’d hit a hard spell.

I think grief makes it alright for two muscular, hairy, tough guys (like us) to shed a tear in front of each other.  It gives us a pass to utter phrases that are unfamiliar to our vernacular. Phrases like –

I feel…

It was tough when…

I question…

I don’t believe…

Do you believe?

I’m scared…

It’s a deep connection that I’m thankful for. 

When I think about this incredibly sad situation, I often work to find some silver in the lining.  Frankly, there isn’t a lot.  However, my deepened friendships with Jesse and Brad and Eric and Steve and Jon and Jeff and many others, both male and female, shine bright through the dark cloud.  And that lining is what is leading me to the other side.  I hope I can pay that forward in the months and years to come.

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