The past 18 months have been particularly hard for me. I have not been writing here much as I can’t exactly say what it is that unfolds in reality. I’ve stayed quiet, I’ve stayed away, I’ve stayed pre-occupied.
Some people came to rescue me at various times in the past year and a half. Others have quietly waited for me to get myself back together. And still others have turned away and left my life without a second glance.
Victoria is one of those people who, while being utterly frustrated by my lack of being available, never gave up on me as a friend. In fact, when I needed someone so desperately, as I was so remotely unavailable even to myself, she pushed her way in and stood ground while I gathered up my last bits of sanity. This isn’t an exaggeration.
She’s stood by watching me dog paddle the English Channel, knowing I was making progress even if scarcely noticeable.
We were emailing each other about some plans this weekend. We’ve been trying to get together for a while now, as is always my case it seems. We had definitive plans for Saturday with another good friend of ours. All of our children know each other from years at the same Montessori. These are people I’ve shared multiple holidays with and school plays and gathering, so the idea of getting together was exciting and welcomed. The children couldn’t wait. Hell, *I* couldn’t wait. Until I got the message from Victoria about the shootings.
Life suddenly was more precious and more tenable. I sat wringing my hands for hours, waiting, as the family did. I got her text, before anything public was said, and fell apart in the office. I didn’t need any pictures to remind me what Noah looked like. I’ve met him. My son spent an afternoon with him playing together with their cousins. I drank wine with his mom, V’s sister in law, thinking to myself how much I could *totally* hang out with her because she is great people.
I can only imagine her face today. Actually, I try not to imagine her face today.
It’s that image, the image of another mom who lost her six year old son, that has kicked the ass out of my selfish quests. I can no longer fathom the world without these children in it. I can not imagine my world without
reminding my own son to brush his teeth, to listen the first time I tell him something and to please please please stop playing the DS and put on his shoes.
I can not imagine life without those easy struggles.
I’ve been able to help out some, not enough, the family that is hurt and wounded beyond anything I think anyone should endure. The truth of the story is that they’ve helped me even more than they know. Spending hours with her children, making stupid stories up to keep her mind off the real world, doing dishes because they need to be done; these are the easy parts of a larger whole. This whole is teaching the entire world, unfortunately at my very good friend’s own heart ache, how precious life is.
Grief is horrendous. Life is precious. Friendship through darkness is salvation. To my own friend who held my hand back to safety, please send every ounce of love to her family as you can. And please, for all of us, go home and hug your children. Even if they refuse to put on their shoes.