Oct 05, 2011
I’ve known since January that I would be saying a final goodbye to my sister - probably within the year. That’s still in process. Very close. Very painful. I’ve been well aware that (given the circumstances) it has been a blessed time for my sister and me. We have been granted all the opportunities people usually hope for when cancer is unstoppable. It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I still feel like I’m being turned inside out at times.
So I’m overwhelmed with respect, awe and heartbreak for a friend of mine.
Back in June, she ended a work day by asking her coworkers if any of them had ever experienced a sense of impending doom. It made them nervous because they knew she had already double dipped into grief. Her sister had died suddenly and unexpectedly a few months before. Her best buddy sister-in-law left life with no chance for goodbyes shortly after. The nerves were justified all around. My friend arrived home that day to discover her husband dead on the floor. He had a long history with heart disease. In fact it was so long he had most all of us convinced it would never catch up with him. We knew better but nobody prepares themselves for something like that.
I shared my feelings with another friend at the time. She responded, “What a shock. File this one in life's lessons - always say goodbye when you leave the house like you mean it. I am so sorry to hear (she’s) facing life without her husband.”
What a memorable statement that turned out to be. Always say goodbye when you leave the house like you mean it? My friend said a final goodbye to her sister, sister-in-law and husband in 2011. Monday evening she arrived home to find three fire departments had been called to extinguish flames that apparently started around the basement furnace and climbed up walls to exit through the roof.
A wall space devoted to a display of favorite photos of her late husband has been melted into nothing. The place they raised their family together is gone. She must feel like she arrived home and found him dead all over again. She must feel like she is facing life without her partner--again.
There was no sense of impending doom this time around. This is overwhelming surprise, shock, silence and sadness. I know she will learn a new way to feel his presence in her present. Right now we’re on guard for the moment consciousness hits her with the reality of accumulated loss.
I wonder how much grief one single soul can absorb and survive.
I wonder if it’s possible to reconcile the conflict I feel between my friend’s circumstance and my own.
I wonder how it can be that some people insist on inflicting needless pain on people who are already overburdened by the organic type demanded by life.