October 27, 2019
It was Thursday morning when I got the text. A brilliant, blue-sky October morning. We were about to leave for the farmers market in Lunenburg.
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no... I groaned from the bedroom office where I was briefly scanning my messages before we left the house for coffee, eggs, vegetables, and meat. My mom came running. I hated speaking the words that made the nightmare real. Our dear friend's son had committed suicide that morning. He was gone.
The words are hard to speak and hard to say. Then, and now.
Later in the day I text, "when's the funeral?" Am I allowed to ask this question? I hate the words that make this real. I re-read her texts. Is this really happening?
I look at the calendar. I call my husband. I check our two-years-going flight points program. The one we're saving for a vacation, just the two of us, or for such a time as this.
My friend's son had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts so I've already thought about what it would feel like to get this text. How I might need to book a flight, but hoping from the bottom of my heart the text would never come, the flight never booked.
During our last phone chat we talked about getting together to celebrate her 50th birthday. That was the flight I was hoping to make.
I cry with my mom and talk through my options for visiting. I want my friend to feel supported during this loss and I'm trying to find the best solution for a terrible situation. But I will never get there soon enough to turn back time and make it not be true. I will never make this better.
I have no clue what to say or how to respond. My efforts are floundering and feeble and so ineffective and very far away.
I just keep thinking "I don't want this to be true. I don't want this to be true. I don't want this to be true."
It's still true.
I feel equal and confusing parts comfort and pain. The comfort of being with my parents as I absorb this news. The searing pain that my friend is facing this without her own parents, both having already passed on years too early to help carry their daughter through this loss. The injustice of all that loss. I am angry at fate for her, with her.
I am angry.
I am relieved. Not us. We have more days of life. I feel ashamed of my love-greedy and urgent texts to my own children, "How was your class?" "I love this painting." "How did your presentation go?" "Don't forget to pick the kale :)" "Have a good day!" Hearts. I love you. Exclamation points.
I laugh from my belly and with joy at a video my son sends, "you'll like this one mom!" It feels wrong to laugh but it also feels warm and wonderful and connects me to my son.
Her son. Her beautiful boy. Gone.
I'm at a loss. For words. For the "right" response. The "right" timing. Am I allowed to even write about this?
I go for a walk in the woods with my mom. I photograph the stunning sunset. How can there be so much beauty on a day with so much pain?
Nothing I do can take away her pain. But that doesn't mean I want to do nothing.
Loving and kind responses to sorrow, pain, and agony are only that; loving and kind responses. They are not his laughter, his brown sparkly eyes, his humor, his hugs, his conversation, his life, him.
Everything I do, anything I can offer is inadequate to the loss, inadequate to the suffering. And that is part of my pain, part of my grief to bear, that I cannot make this better for her.
I cannot give her what I long for most in the world to give her, which is not my texts, my presence, or reassurance of my planned arrival, but her son.
Life is not fair. And I know it. And I fight it. And I plan for it. And it's still unfair.
I am with my parents, basking in the affection and easy rhythm of our one-on-one visit. A time hoped for, planned for, come to pass. Soaking in the natural beauty of woods, river, ocean and sky.
I feel loved and I feel sad. I feel grief and I feel gratitude.
I feel there is no way to know how to do this.
I am so, so sorry dear friend. I want to turn back the clock. I want to be at your door with a meal. I want Thursday morning to never have happened. I want to give you your parents, give you your son.
I can't. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.
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