Two weeks ago today my dear friend lost her dad.
I was in the drive thru of Dairy Queen, feeding her kids and mine Blizzards for lunch when I got the text. With blurry eyes, I looked in the rear view mirror at her three, precious littles sad for the news they would hear later that day.
My heart hurt.
The rest of the day was a blur but when her eight year old daughter asked me if she’d be coming over the next day, I instantly regretted my answer.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said.
She stared at me and asked again, “well why? Where would we go? We might come here?”
And I knew that she was trying to figure me out, so I lied and said, “well maybe you’re coming here, that could be, you never know.”
We had fun, they played hard, they laughed. We all laughed. And when my dear friend and her husband came to pick up the kids we hugged tight, she thanked me through tears and took her babies home.
There was no time for me to process, no time for me to even react. Her dad had been ill for quite some time and we knew it was coming but I was so sad. For her, for her brother, for her mom, for her kids.
Last week was the funeral and she spoke brilliantly. Better than I could ever do. I told her days later she was braver than I could ever be. Seven years ago, I sat at my mom’s funeral with a lip so tight my face hurt for days, I could never have spoken a word for if I had an avalanche of emotion would have come tumbling out. Some call that verbal diarrhea.
Days after the dust had barely settled I picked her up because she needed normal and I needed her. And we laughed and we talked and we just showed up.
We talked about the thank you’s and the people who show up when you need them and the ones who don’t. We talked about worrying about the other parent and processing our kids feelings. And we talked about the hard stuff. Looking back, looking forward, living now.
It’s been almost 7 years now since I lost my mom and I wish I could tell her it’s all better and that the wound has healed but it’s not and it hasn’t. It’s roughed me up a bit and left me tender. A scab that can be yanked off in a moment or tears that just bubble below the surface.
And I wish either of us didn’t have any experience with losing a parent, or death or loss at all. But we do, so I say something and I show up in the best way I know how. And it’s not how you would think.
I’ll likely never be that person who sends flowers or brings food but I will take your kids, I will hug you and love you and hold you in my prayers, I will listen and process and I’ll even go out and buy funeral clothes.
Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s the fine art of showing up and that’s all I know how to do.
“When you’re mourning, when something terrible has happened, it’s on your mind and right at the top of your heart all the time. It’s genuinely shocking to you that the sun is still shining and that people are still chattering away on Good Morning America. Your world has changed, utterly , and it feels incomprehensible that the bus still comes and the people in the cars next to you on the highway just drive along as if nothing’s happened. When you’re in that place, it’s a gift to be asked how you’re doing, and most of the time the answer comes tumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you.” – Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet.