have this friend who is going through a rough time.

And it is the worst thing, to be sad around the holidays. You hear a carol and everything inside you recoils, like feeling cold and warm at the same time.

Before her husband died, I went to visit.

“Open the wine,” she yelled from upstairs. “I’ll be right down.”

I found the wine amid so many prescription bottles, all I could think was, it won’t be long.

It wasn’t. A month later, I was at his memorial service.

Now, I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I remember sitting there trying to remember if they ever got along. Because they fought. They fought all the time. When she described one argument to me, her hands trembled, she was so upset. And I said something like, “Couples argue. It’s no big deal.” But that was early on, when I still hoped that the two of them would make it.

Before I started to worry that they would.

When she announced her engagement, I did not call her back right away. I have a little problem faking enthusiasm.

Because he did not just argue with her; he made everyone feel uncomfortable. That is just the sort of man he was. He seemed to enjoy embarrassing my friend in front of her friends, as if he would stow his criticisms until we were all together and then, one by one, fling them at her. What is more, I think he wanted to fling them at her in front of us; it’s why he would tag along in the first place. Then, once everyone was looking at him, mortified, he would act like he could not figure out what terrible thing he had done.

Even so, after he died, all I had to do was look in her eyes to see how desperate she felt, reminding me how alone we can feel after a loss, any loss.

“Do you think I’ll ever find another man like him?” she said.

Why would you want to? Of course I did not say that. The simplest way to show love is to never come up dry in the comfort department. “Of course you will!”

“It’s just that I hate being alone.” 

“We’re all alone in the end,” I said, not quite believing I said such a silly thing.

It’s just that I did not, do not, want her to settle for another man who makes her feel bad about herself. And I could just kick myself for bringing up the election after promising myself that I wouldn’t because my friend is much more conservative than I am. But I was working so hard at not bringing it up, that I brought it up.

“You know,” she said, “Trump is what this country needs.”

I blinked. I smiled, blinked again, harder this time, but I was not all that surprised by her comment. When it comes to politics, my friend is always saying things that sound crazy to me.

But that is not the point.

The point is, that no two people can ever be on the same page about everything. If we are, I am pretty sure one of us is lying. And the whole point is to accept each other’s differences.

Besides, I knew what my friend was really saying: A man like Trump may be just what she needs. I mean, she settled for money before. And she knew I knew because she started to chuckle. Next, because the line between emotions is impossibly thin, she fell apart.

I think an even truer thing I needed to learn about friendship began right then, after she said another thing I don’t believe for a second is true: “We had a good marriage.”

And this time I didn’t blink.

— Mary Lou Sanelli has published three works of non-fiction, including “Among Friends,” a Goodreads notable title. Her first novel, “The Star Struck Dance Studio of Yucca Springs,” was recently released by Chatwin Books. For more information about her and her work, visit www.marylousanelli.com.