Bloody Marys and Olive Branches

When I lost my father a few years ago, my friends all showed up in the best ways they knew how. I was surprised by every call, text, card, bouquet of flowers, and hug. Offers to help with my dog while I went home to grieve with my family, dropping by just to deliver a hot meal, all of it humbled me. I remember thinking, “Oh, this is how people have survived grief for millennia: community, kindness, and unconditional compassion.” I understood something new about empathy and it lit my tunnel of sorrow for weeks.

Amidst this outpouring, I heard from someone with whom I had a strained relationship—a friend I hadn’t spoken to in several months. We had been very close in the past, but I had made a regretful mistake in our friendship and it had left a mark, one we never really recovered from. So when I received a text from her that included her heartfelt condolences and an invitation to brunch upon my return, something in me softened. I grasped that olive branch and felt a deep sense of gratitude and relief.

Death can open doors to forgiveness; it can shake free regret and the walls we put up to protect ourselves. I will never forget that brunch in Brooklyn. I will always remember how good that Bloody Mary tasted after we toasted to my father and our friendship.

By Jessica Frith