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Entries in grief (2)



My friend is gone.

After months of maybe - of hopes - of perhaps, the final answer is no. No, she will not recover. No, she will not wake up. No, she is not coming back. 

In April, I went to a yoga retreat in the mountains of Tennessee. Slowing down for the first time in months, I felt the weight of her absence. Even as I still entertained the ever-decreasing hope of her recovery, I knew she had already missed so much - a Christmas, her son’s first birthday, a thousand small moments and milestones. 

The thought of her missing even more - of missing everything - felt like a weight I couldn’t lift off my shoulders. 

So, I went for a walk by a stream on a beautiful spring day and I talked to my friend. I told her how sorry I was for what happened to her. I told her how guilty I felt that I could still hug my children and she couldn’t. I told her that I loved her - that we all loved her - and the thought of never again hearing her voice or seeing her smile was unbearable. 

I felt her there with me that day and, as I watched the water rush past, here is what I decided. 

As mothers, our love is like water. In a perfect world - in a world without car wrecks or cancer or war, that love is like a pool. The water is still and deep and stays in the same place. Our children can dive in and immerse themselves in that love whenever they need us. We are always there for hugs or support or advice. 

But we do not live in a perfect world.

Sometimes that love is like a summer rainstorm. It comes and drenches everything in its path but then it is gone. However, the water it left behind still exists. At first, its presence is obvious. We see it in puddles on the sidewalk or in a thousand droplets across the grass. Then, we have to look harder. The water still exists as part of stream that rushed to sea or as the plant that continues to grow or as condensation filling another cloud for another rainstorm.

The love my friend felt for her children still exists. It was will always exist. The love she poured into every meal, every bath, every story is not going anywhere. As the years pass, her children will need to look harder. We all will. We will have to depend on what we know instead of what we can see - but the love will be there. 

Water doesn’t die. Love doesn’t either. It merely changes form. 

~ Sarah Stewart Holland


For Amelia

UPDATE: I thought I was saying goodbye. The diagnosis had been made. The transplant team  called. However, no one writes the ending to Amelia's story but Amelia and it would seem she is not ready to say goodbye. When the sedation was turned off, she began moving and responding to pain. A feeding tube and trach has been inserted. The neurologist says his gut tells him she's getting better. 

So, whatever you believe or whatever you usually celebrate, please stop and say a prayer or light a candle or send all your positive energy to our Christmas miracle in Augusta. - SSH

I remember the first time we met. It was at Bunco. I was branching out - trying to make new friends. Our babies were mere months apart. Our first conversation was about natural birth and breastfeeding. 

I remember thinking, "She is my people. We will be friends." 

We took yoga together. We went to the park. She was the first friend that watched Griffin for me when my new teaching gig took me away during the day. She took pictures and told me all about the adventures they had had while I was gone.

I remember thinking, "So, this is what it's like to have a real mommy friend!"

She was the most conscientious mother I knew and we would trade parenting books and philosophies like trading cards. I remember laughing at the stacks of puzzles she had at her house. She told me when she found something that would keep her daughter's attention for more than a few seconds she bought a lot of them. 

We both had a creative streak and when she got a sewing machine cheap at Tuesday Morning we made plans to take sewing lessons from my grandmother. We talked about knitting and photography and what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. 

At my Halloween party, she was the most costumed adult by far. I remember giggling everytime I'd catch sight of her across the yard. 

Her generousity went so deep it seemed almost like instinct. When I told her I wanted to buy Griffin an easel for his birthday, she brought an extra one she had to my door. I offered to pay her. She just seemed confused by my offer, "No! I had two! It's perfect!"

Then, she told me she was moving. I was worried about her. She had been trying unsuccesfully to get pregnant. I jokingly told her she would get pregnant at the most inconvenient time ... in the middle of her move.

And then she did. 

The last time I saw her her belly was swollen. She was mere weeks away from her due date but she had driven to Atlanta so we could meet up at The Varsity. We laughed at our babies getting reacquainted and she asked me about having two. 

We hugged. We said goodbye. 

I was planning on calling her again last week. To tell her we were coming back to Georgia and see if she'd be around. Her Christmas card had come in the mail and I left it out as a reminder to send her a quick text.

Then, I got another text. She had been in a car wreck and was in a medically induced coma. I began checking her Facebook page like a nervous tick. Her mother posted updates. I rode everyone like a roller coaster convinced the ride would end safely. Everyone's feet firmly on the ground.

Then, the terrible news. My beautiful friend would not be waking up. 

The tragedy threatens to consume me. The baby she tried so hard to have will not remember her. The little girl - my child's first friend - will no longer have the mother who loved her so powerfully. The husband who must face the unfaceable. 

I can't. 

I cannot let the tragedy of my friend's death erase the beauty of her life. I will remember the cupcakes she made for her daughter's birthday. I will remember how she sent me a Panera card from far away after Amos was born since she couldnt' bring me a meal in person. I will remember how she came to my Oscar party even though she hadn't seen any of the movies. I will remember how she made me laugh. I will remember how she made me smile. 

I will try to focus on all the joy she brought into my life, instead of all the sadness I felt when she left. 

~ Sarah Stewart Holland