We use the expression all the time (or some of us do!) – “Good Grief”. But it seems in the midst of it, there’s nothing good. There’s shock and numbness before the searing pain of loss sets in. Then grief hovers at the edges of the soul, and pounces when it’s least expected. Many lovely people have asked me how I’m doing. How can I explain that I have internal bleeding from a gaping hole in my heart? That I’m bone weary, and yet lie awake at night? Instead I say “I’m fine”. Sometimes I am. And I know that one day, I will be.
I’m trying to focus on what’s “good” in the grief, to see beauty in the Opera of the everyday and in the ways we fall apart.
I was there. So often, all I could do when my friend struggled, was to be present. This week, I tried to be present for her family, in whatever small ways I could. They let me see her in the ICU, so I could tell her I love her. They let me share some of my memories in the service. They let me do a few small things, for her.
I got to hug my family. My kids, my husband, my parents. My friend and partner in crime. Even Big Guy’s friend (who I call my adopted kid). Time together is always precious.
I tried to delight in little things, like sassy red shoes, and an indulgent pair of silk stockings. I wore my little black dress, the one that only comes out of the closet for funerals. I ate a sweet butter tart square, even though I gave up all forms of dessert for Lent. I stopped and smelled the roses, especially the pink ones.
I listened to stories about Ruth. I listened as others shared how much they will miss her, how much she meant to them. I connected with strangers, with whom I might have nothing else in common and will never see again, but we could be honest and vulnerable together.
I honoured my friend, my “Mom”, who would have been proud of me. She would haveloved the gathering of family and friends, and relished all the attention.
After the reception, my posse (minus my parents who needed to get home to finish packing for their big trip), met at Tim Horton’s . It seemed an appropriate place to gather, where we had gathered with her a thousand times, to share our laughs and frustrations over a cup of tea. It was so full, we moved the party to the house. We kicked off our shoes and tucked up in the living room. And started to breathe again…
Family is more than blood. Families are made of those who you welcome in, share “silent unspeakable memories” with, express vulnerability with, work to climb the highs and lows of life with, and who you love with all your heart.
– Maya Angelou
It’s quiet today, something I yearned for these past two weeks. The hydro is off, so there are no distractions (kind of chilly though). Even Chloe, our crazy cavy, is quiet. I have flipped through photo images of my friend; there are more journal entries and stories than photos. I have cried, and laughed a little in the sanctuary of my bed, reliving adventures and comments. I have wondered if I could have said something more or different when I spoke at the funeral.
But it’s time to get up, to get dressed, to make a cup of tea…for two.
Ruth was a colourful thread running through the tapestry of our lives. While God has now written her from our stories, her love and spirit have left an indelible mark.