There is pain, and then there is pain. Tomorrow marks one year since my childhood friend lost her son, after an intoxicated man drove into his car. He was eighteen.
This loss has swallowed her whole. Over the past year, we have talked the beauty and crazy of life and God and everything in between. Really, everything, and in sympatico, and there is nothing I can do to ease it for her. I knew that last October, and I know it this October, and yet…
I will not take my heart off of her, nor look away, nor worry that she is amiss. She should be, and she will be, and I will hold her right here and close. To fret would do her a mighty disservice.
Instead, my work is to remind her that she can feel her compass in the mud. She can’t see it, and sometimes she is certain it’s lost and broken–be damned. But when I listen in, she’s still got it, and she can still ride with it.
This is the girl who taught me to stand up. To be sass and swagger when we were too small for such things, and to punch a jerk if I needed to. (Sorry Bev and Earl, it’s true.) She is the one who has rumbled through all the halls life has to offer, and has come out a warrior–but now this.
On the eve of her son’s early departure, I honor her, for baring her bruises to me, and to anyone who was willing to see them and approach with care. For being strong and sometimes inconsolably the opposite of that. For staying the course.
I honor those who gave her space and were filled with grace, too humble to judge. I honor the people who hold her hand when the fires are large, and to the people relentless in provoking her out of her slumber when the need arises. I love all the people who’ve loved her, and I love her for letting us in, even when she’d rather rage against the machine.
There is pain, and then there is pain. I see you. I see your struggle, and I will not forget to keep you close. We will keep looking up, my friend. From our knees, in the dark, and from the places I cannot follow you, always–up.