There is an old joke by some stand-up comedian about religious intolerance that goes something like this:
First person: So. I see you're wearing a cross. Are you a Christian?
Second person: Why yes I am, and I see you are wearing one too. Where do you go to church?
FP: Second baptist.
SP: Me too! Second Baptist east end or west end?
SP: Me too!
FP: Second baptist west end 8 o'clock service or 10?
FP: Me too!
SP: Second baptist west end 10 o'clock service. Do you sit on the left or the right side of the church?
FP: Right side.
SP: Me too!
FP: By the choir or by the doors?
SP: By the choir.
FP: I sit by the door.
I know, and know of, a lot of widows these days. Hundreds. In those first months, I searched all the blogs I could find, discarding most, landing and remaining on some. I kept a bit of a tally in my head: age, cause of death, kids or no kids, whether the one left still living was present at the time of death, whether they seemed "like" me or not "like" me - all sorts of things. Being widowed under 50 is statistically uncommon. Widowed due to an accident, also statistically unusual. Widowed in an incident the two of you shared, but only one survived? In all those hundreds of blogs I read, I found one person whose partner was killed in an accident in which they were also involved. One. Later, I met one other person who was there in the water when her husband drowned. Two. Two people, not including myself, who were involved in the same accident that killed their love. Two out of hundreds, both online and in person. The window of same-ness, already quite small, felt smaller. No one was like me. And I felt like saying it was akin to shouting "heretic" in a roomful of people sharing very similar pain.
My closest widowed friends are close because of who we are and who we were before we each got here, as well as who we each are now. I'd like to think we'd be friends anyway, if somehow our paths had crossed. Manner of, and involvement in, death is no guarantee of connection. One form is not better than another. When and where the flowchart of badness splits into two different paths matters in some ways and absolutely doesn't in others.
But I will say, now, today, that there is a kinship there, way down on that cosmic flowchart. There is a kinship in the sound of search planes. A kinship in the swarming of rescue crews. A kinship in a particular anomaly. I hadn't realized I still needed that until just lately.
I don't know how to end this without sounding somehow like I am glad someone else died, and that someone new is in pain. You know I am not. It is beyond bizarre to be thankful to recognize myself in someone elses' pain, to be thankful for our similarities, to be glad they have shown up in a place that I could see, so that I could have a need in myself answered. Our accidents were not the same, our lives are not the same. But there is kinship I needed echoed, and I am glad for that.