“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” From a headstone in Ireland
This is not the blog post I intended to write today. I planned on drafting another Book Corner post to possibly upload today or tomorrow, but my mind and my heart are elsewhere. Today, I am going to say goodbye to a dear friend that passed away a couple of days ago. Years of struggling with kidney issues and all of its related complications came to a head for my friend. Fortunately, I was able to see her a couple of weeks ago, albeit for all too brief a time. It was the most fragile I had ever seen her, but in that fragility lied the strength that I had always admired. It is this strength that kept my friend going throughout years of hospital stays, rounds of dialysis, and near endless rounds of surgery, all with the determination to make it through for the family she loved so dearly.
On her own, my friend raised a bright and beautiful girl who excelled in school and who is today the mother of a beautiful and thriving baby girl. Despite the odds and warnings from doctors, several years ago my friend gave birth to a boy who will soon enter into the pre-teen phase of his life. My heart breaks for my friends children, especially her daughter for whom my friend was both a mother and father. Having lost both of my parents, I know there are no words I can say to my friends children that will make the inexplicable pain of losing their mother any less agonizing. The well-meaning, but cliché, “time heals all wounds,” and “she is in a better place now,” is not something her children will hear from me. Yes, over time the pain of losing a loved one becomes more manageable, and it could be that one’s loved one is in a better place now, but as the son or the daughter of the person that passed, all you can think of in this very moment is what you would give to have your parent with you. Now more than ever, my friends children will need shoulders to cry on and ears to listen to them. They should have the space and support to feel like they don’t have to be pillars of strength, nor to apologize for sometimes escaping into their own pockets of grief. Moreover, they should not be made to feel guilty if they take what others deem “too long” to grieve.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to grieving, no set limits on the amount of tears to shed or for how long. Death’s sting last way beyond the time the body is laid to rest or cremated. But with the sting of death comes the opportunity to recollect times long since forgotten. For me, these memories consist of the times I’d go to my friend’s house and talk to her about everything and nothing. Times when we’d laugh so hard our sides hurt, times when she’d encourage me to be strong and times when she’d admonish me for being a knucklehead. Her smile, the sound of her laughter, the sensation of her hugs, these are all rushing back to me now. Oh, the times that we spent together. I’m so fortunate to have had such a wonderful and loyal friend in my life. She was a true picture of strength and perseverance that will forever rest in my heart.