Standing together

Recently I watched a series on Netflix.  One of the story’s characters, a smart, thriving lawyer is asked why she returned back to the small town where she lived instead of living in a larger metropolis like Los Angeles or New York City.  Surely a larger, more populated city could enlarge her law practice, as well as expand her social and business networks?  After all, she was successful and had many city options to select from other than the small town.   This single lawyer explains her father had died many years ago and how recently her mother had died as well, living her parentless, alone, trying to navigate life.

She spoke of the many trials she’s had- the hard time she had grieving the loss of her father and subsequently her mother.   The lawyer mentions people in her life, people who have been with her through those grief struggles and was present to hold her up and carry her when she couldn’t carry herself.   She felt she owes her friends her friendship and the corresponding support she’s been able to return back to them over the years.  This gratitude, this community of women supporting each other played a strong reason why she chose to stay in the small town, and give up on potential larger career opportunities.

After my husband died, I too had to assess if the city I lived in over the past 23 years made sense to remain a resident.   After all, it was just my daughter and I left alone to find our way after his death. Who would really care if we left?  I could always move back to Arizona or even California- where fond memories and warm weather stir thoughts of sizzling Mexican food and Mariachi music.  Did I have the strength and heart to relocate…again?

Then I remembered my support team.

It’s true I often feel isolated with no one to help me in my present situation, I too remember the many wonderful women in my life, my circle, who in their own small ways have come to my aid over the past 5 years since becoming a widow. While I often feel constantly overwhelmed with life and decisions on where and how to begin again, they attempt to shoulder my pain in ways I often forget.

These women who, while not often knowing what to say or even how to help, are a constant reminder of the years of friendships we’ve shared.  Girl trips, great lunches laughing over life’s strange occurrences, traveling together, impromptu shopping trips just to get out of the house, praying together, and plenty of hugs and tears.  These expressions of hope and love are a constant reminder of my connectedness to my community, my internal circle of support to me and my daughter’s life.  It’s a bond.

In our lives it’s easy to take people for granted.   Often these same people, who aren’t blood relatives, are present to stand in the gap when no one is around to shoulder the pain of grief and new beginnings. It’s a sisterhood.

To be able to stand together, standing with others – exhibiting the ministry of presence is a blessing.  It is a delightful experience to witness God’s ability to connect people, the dots of my life at the most needed times. It’s a relationship.

For this I am grateful that I didn’t uproot my community and start over again.  Truth is, I’ve had enough starts and stops the past five years. And I’m tired.  Consistency and sameness feels good right now. Even though it’s without the authentic Mexican food, beautiful skies and warm weather of other remembered locations.

For now, I’ll enjoy my surrounding and be thankful I have a circle of support that loves me. It’s a Blessing.


Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.