Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Friends and BlogHer

As many of you already know, my reason for going solo to New York City last week was for a writing and publishing conference sponsor by Penguin and BlogHer. It was amazing. As someone who has become somewhat of a professional conference attendee, I can spot a good conference from a mile away. And this one was really, really good. So much so that my head was spinning by the end of the day from all my "a-ha" moments and my computer was about on fire from all my note taking.

One of the things I love most about going to conferences is the people you meet and their stories that they share. At the opening reception, I met these two wonderful ladies, Mrs. P and Wife of a Wounded Marine, who were (surprise, surprise) like me and hanging out by the food. They saw me (darn it!) spill the nice brownish mustard sauce all over the starched white table cloth and laughed.

I knew then we’d be fast friends. Mrs. P even encouraged me to dip my (overcooked) chicken in the brownish mustard sauce. I did. It did not help the chicken.

Anyway, Mrs. P and Karie were already “online friends” but had just met for the first time in-person at the reception. Both are widows of husbands who have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both are around my age. And we were just a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks just a few weeks after the 10th anniversary. And all that blew my mind just a little.

Then we discussed the merits of wine and what we hoped to see in NYC and I showed them the goofy masks I’d just bought at the American Folk Art Museum. We tried them on and laughed at how ridiculous we looked. (We also made Mrs. P’s boyfriend try on one. I’ll let her post that picture. I don’t mess with Marines)! And we laughed some more. And they may have laughed at the way I talk.

But here’s the thing, Mrs. P and Karie didn’t let the terrible, awful, can’t-even-begin-to-imagine tragedy that happened to them define them. That they are both widows decades too early was definitely a part of them, it would be impossible for it to not be, but neither of them had a “woe-is-me” attitude. In fact, we'd been talking for quite some time before it came out that they knew each other through the online world of military widows (isn’t it so sad that there is one of those?).

I’m continually amazed at the people I know who have the ability to face great tragedy with grace, humor and courage. I always think of two quotes that I find so inspirational.  Plato’s quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle and the verse in John 16:22 “Suddenly your grief will turn to joy when you see me again.”

You can find out more about their stories on their blogs (linked to above) And I believe they are both working on books so be on the look out for that sometime in the future (not to put pressure on you two or anything!).

No comments: