It feels oddly strange, almost ghostlike, to enter a room full of people I know but who don’t immediately recognize me. I forget sometimes that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that folks who haven’t seen me since 2005 probably don’t know I’ve shed almost 170 pounds.
I went to a funeral home today to pay my respects to a dear old friend who passed away last Friday. I used to live in a very small town not far from where I live now, back several years ago when I owned an antique store. I knew Bill, the man who died, and his family through my association with the store.
I hadn’t seen Bill’s son Craig or his granddaughter Amy and her boyfriend Clark since I left. Today in the reception line, Clark was standing next to Amy, who was talking to the lady in front of me. Clark extended his hand, smiled, and said, “Hi, I’m Clark.” I said, “Hi, I’m Lynn,” and I smiled and looked directly into his eyes, hoping he’d see something familiar. He looked back with some question in his eyes, then he got a big grin on his face and he said, “Girl, you gotta get some meat on your bones!” I laughed and said, “Um, no. I just got done getting all the meat off!”
The woman ahead of me moved on and Clark said to Amy, “Do you know who this is?” Amy said, with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes, “Of course I do. It’s Lynn.” We hugged for what felt like forever. She loved her grandpa so much and she was so very sad. I realized at that moment how much I’d missed her. I was foolish to not try and contact her once I moved away and sold my store. I was so sad when I left there years ago that I tried to leave it all behind. Bill’s death united me to that place again, to where I learned so much about myself and met some really kind and caring people. Like Amy.
I’m going to start crying just writing this. Amy recognized me. She’d know me anywhere. And that made me so happy. Yes, I’ve lost a lot of weight, but my eyes never changed, my smile never changed. I’m still the same person inside. And best of all, I’m still her friend. I gave her my email address and I know she’ll write once the dust settles on her grandpa’s affairs.
When I got down the line to Craig, he offered his hand to me, too, and looked at me quizzically. “Hi, Craig. It’s me. Lynn. From the store.” He blinked a few times and said, “Well look at you,” and gave me a hug. We talked a little about how Bill died and I told him how much Bill meant to me. I talked to Craig’s wife for a few minutes and then it was time for me to go.
This day of grief was also a day of liberation. My weight wasn’t the only thing I lost when I left my store and that small town. I lost touch with people I cared about and who cared about me. I know that now. And I thank Bill for that gift. Rest in peace, my dear old friend.