We had a combination birthday/farewell dinner last night for our friend Lisa. She's moving back to Cleveland, where she grew up and has family. She's had a rough time recently - nothing like becoming a widow after 10 months of marriage to really put you in a serious funk. But she's come so far, and as a group of friends, we've come so far, too. There's something about a horrible, tragic, untimely death within a group to pull people together - I was one of the three who organized the food and cooking for 150 people after Joel's memorial service on 2 days notice. Lisa and Joel had just purchased their first home about 45 min away not a month earlier, and a gang of us went out there to paint, hang curtains, etc. to get it put back on the market so Lisa could sell it and move back to DC, closer to her friends, closer to a life she knew. We're the ones who packed up the u-haul and unpacked it in her new apartment. Who pitched in money for pizza to feed everyone who helped on those work days. Something about seeing your friends come together like that makes you realize that these really are the awesomest people, and you know that they would do the exact same thing if it was you who was in a pickle. We really are a family, an "urban tribe" as we joke.
So getting together last night was hard. We're going to miss Lisa terribly, but wish her well. So well. She's got an opportunity to start fresh, where she doesn't have that label hanging over her head, even as faded as it is here after 5 years since Joel's death. Seeing friends last night, a few of whom have gotten married, moved further out in the burbs (or the middle east in the case of our state department friend who was fortunately in town for the first time in 3 years), was so good. Even though we're more spread out and our lives don't interconnect as much these days, these people are still my FRIENDS. There's so much love and understanding among us, it's mind boggling. There's something to be said, too, for the hugs from friends who KNOW, who understand what you are going through, who genuinely care. And putting a dozen such people around the table together to eat tex-mex and raise a margarita glass with you leaves such a warm and fuzzy imprint on one's heart that I'm still glowing from it today.