I’ll preface this by saying it has been a long, hard fall. Four deaths in two months. Four deaths that rocked us. Four families forever changed. My heart has never been in this place before, perhaps yours has. So I know you get me. While I write this letter with two different mamas grieving the loss of their amazing sons in mind, it’s really for all of you. All of you friends out there who are supporting and loving someone through profound sorrow.
To my dear friend who is grieving,
A thousand times. At least.
A thousand times I have wondered how your heart can carry a burden and a sorrow so heavy. I have sat in my living room, at a stoplight, in the grocery store checkout lane, nursing my baby and a million places in between and your sorrow has landed squarely on my heart. Sometimes, it is so profound, I find myself crying in the dairy aisle. Near the ice cream. Who does that?
But, this isn’t about my sorrow, or even how much I miss your sweet child – that is all very, very real.
This is how I want you to know one very important thing.
I have not forgotten.
I have not forgotten the look of complete and total brokenness I saw when we embraced. I have not forgotten your strength when those around you were falling apart. I have not forgotten your amazingly generous heart. I have not forgotten your honesty. Your big, beautiful heart that continues to show us how to love.
I can’t forget those moments. They have changed me. Rocked me. Deepened my faith in the mercy of a good and gracious God. The sorrow I see in you brings me to my knees, both in pain and in prayer. I realize the answers I am looking for may not come in this life.
But they will come. That I am sure.
As the hours turn to days, then to months and finally years, the world tick-tocks on. We get frustrated with the red lights, the lost homework, the spilled milk. And we start to wonder, should I even ask how she’s doing? Should I attend that event for fear that my presence may cause more pain? Should I reach out for a hug? Should I walk away, in silence? Dare I mention a memory for fear that it will bring pain, not peace?
This is such an unimaginable place to be. The not knowing. It is a tenuous balance on the tightrope of grief. Forgive me if I linger too long, say the wrong thing or tear up when I should be smiling. I’m learning how to go into the deep with you. You see, as much as my heart has cracked open with sorrow upon your loss, I cannot stand idly by and let you go it all alone. It’s not possible.
For I have only two choices: to walk away from our friendship, forever, or to grab your hand, holding it tightly, and walk into a place that’s sure to bring both pain and peace. Sorrow and understanding. Fear and mercy. But I believe it’s worth it. You’re worth it. Going into the deep is something we’ll all do in life, we just don’t know when.
My heart knows there are some things, some pieces of the cross you carry, that can only be done by you, and no one else. But the times when it feels suffocating, when you wonder if it will break you, just look around. I may need a pedicure, but girl, I am totally there to help carry the load.
I’m learning how to love you in the way you need to be loved. I’m counting on a God that will guide my ears, my words, my hands and my heart to listen, share, do and love in whatever way He desires.
All that boils down to this: I’m a lifer. You’ve got me for as long as you need me. And, you’ll always have a buddy in the ice cream aisle.