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I have made it over that mountain of immediate grief, loss and aloneness—past the minefields, through the sinkholes, around the boulders that made the climb so arduous. I have not emerged unscathed, inadvertently injuring myself and others along the way.

Now the road is mostly wide and smooth in front of me, just an occasional rough spot, boring stretch or sinkhole to trip me up. There is no end in sight—there will never be an end as long as I draw breath—and I miss my traveling companion of 46 years. This is a lonesome road.

In my 10 months of blogging, I have described my sinkholes, which are common to every new widow whom I know: holidays, anniversaries, major life events in the family where he should be there with me. I have blogged about the difficult adjustment to life alone, being half a couple in a world of couples. I have not yet written about two more looming sinkholes for me in the next six weeks: his birthday and death day.

Lev, Lake Como 2006Lev’s birthday is right around the corner—Friday, March 4. But I am not frightened by the thought, for I am blessed by friends who are with me, both mentally and physically. Their continuing gifts of presence, their willingness to maintain our friendship as a threesome instead of a foursome, their empathy at times like this have made my widowhood infinitely easier to bear.

We all have March birthdays; and for years we celebrated together, most often on long weekends to New Orleans, my hometown, where we shared our love for Cajun and Creole food, antiques on Royal and Magazine streets and jazz on every street corner in the French Quarter.

BFFFor the first four of five months after Lev died, I was numb, overwhelmed by all I had to learn and do to run his business and settle his estate. As fall arrived, I began to awaken to the fears of facing Thanksgiving, Christmas and his birthday alone. His birthday proved to have the easiest solution. I wanted to go back to New Orleans, and I asked my friends if they would go with me. They immediately agreed, and we had a good time laced with sad memories and an awareness of the empty place in our circle. I bought myself a David Yurman necklace and earrings—Lev’s birthday gift to Ella. (More on that concept in another blog.)

Since then the three of us have continued to celebrate birthdays together; and today they will join me again in Dallas for another long weekend of symphony, opera, good food, shopping and companionship. My heart bursts with deep affection and gratitude.

Photos: On top of the mountain, Dambulla, Sri Lanka, 2013; Lev at Lake Como, Italy, 2006; with special friends at the Baylor Homecoming football game, 2014.