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December 9, 2012 / daryleverett

Some days are hard. {Grieving over a lost friend}

My friend and me

Some days are hard. Some days are joyous. There are a few days that are almost unbearable because you realize your life will never be the same again.

Yesterday was one of those heart-rending days. I stood staring at the delicate wooden box draped with roses as the family passed. I watched as two little boys, too young to fully understand, placed purple roses on top as a final gesture of love to their Mommy. I saw their father, a man I’ve known since I was in middle school, gently add to the bouquet and reach down to lead his sons away from the vestige of pain.  The next few moments I saw nothing. I’m certain that others walked by because the next scene I remember was that box, holding  the remains of my dear friend, alone under the canopy. With tears streaming down my face, I half sprinted to be by her side.  I reached out my hand to embrace that smooth, cold wood. I don’t know what I was hoping for: comfort, a last goodbye, or reassurance that this was reality perhaps. Certainly it was something beyond my conscious knowledge.  As I stood there like a scene from a movie, I could hear someone say, “that’s her best friend.”

I had tried to protect myself. We learned soon after meeting her that she had a lifelong and life-shortening disease. She was expected to live no longer than high school and we met during her senior year. Every day was borrowed. Not in the sense she could die in a car crash or be diagnosed with cancer; she really was never sure if she would take another breath.

During the first few months after meeting, she began to bear her soul to me. I thought it odd as I didn’t share much with people until I had known them for some time. Soon she told me that I was her best friend and that she was very glad she had found me. I tried to keep some distance, not wanting to invest in someone I didn’t know well and not wanting to stake “best friend” status (and with it my heart) on someone who was dying. It was no use. We did too many things together and shared too much. Eight years and one month. That’s how long this amazing person was the person I could talk to about the crazy things my husband did or how mad he made me, and know that she would still love him the next day.

Throughout my life I’ve lost pets, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I’ve lost members of my church family that I loved and admired. I’ve told family members that a member of their youth group was killed in a crash. I watched news reports of terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Each time, my heart hurt for others but I seemed to have it all together.  But this lost has been like no other in my life.  I know that she was terribly sick the last year and especially the last month that she was here. In my mind, I know that next year would have been incredibly hard for all of us as we watched her spend more days in the hospital room and fewer days playing with her sons. Still, in the quiet moments of the night, I hear her say, “I miss my boys Daryl. I miss ‘em so much.” All my heart can reply is, “they miss you, too.”  Before they were born, I promised her to be there for her boys and love them like my own. I will and I do. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish she could be here for them—and for me.

I’m holding on to the memories of baby showers and lunch dates. I’m keeping close the grown-up sleep overs, staying up chatting like teenagers long after our kids were asleep.  Lunch dates without our husbands, dinner and movies with them, these are the memories I want to remember but they hurt. They hurt because there are no more to come. Then I remember the last two times I saw her before we knew it was the end. I remember the pain in her face as the nurses shifted her sleeping body in the bed. Pain so obviously terrible that it made me feel faint watching her hurting. I remember taking her a gift to lift her spirits and watching her connect in an otherworldly way with the simple metal butterfly, as if it were a symbol to her. I see her tears when I told her I had to leave. I knew then that would be one of the last times that I would see her. I could tell that there would be no more dinner dates, no more telling me to stop talking during her favorite show, no more telling her to stop talking in the theater. Yet I still can’t imagine the world without her. It seems that all of these things are happening in another dimension—a parallel universe.

Now it is time, some would say, to get back to life.  It’s true that our life continues. How do we go on? What do we do next? How do we help those boys to understand that she’s not coming back home this time? I don’t have the answers. I know that we are planning a s’mores date with them. I expect that as we watch them, we will wish that Mommy was there to share marshmallows and chocolate with.  As time passes, there will be many times like that and one day my heart will have healed enough to bring her along by sharing stories about her with them. Those days will be hard. Some days are hard. Some days are joyous.

~Miss you Aunt B~

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2 Comments

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  1. David Hines / Dec 14 2012 1:36 pm

    Bro. Bob said the only thing that helps, ” now all we have is the promise” I wake with promise, I dwell on it all day and I pray for it at bedtime. Daryl it made me happy to see her have a friend like you. Thank you for being there for my little girl.

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