One of my very dear friends passed away a few days ago. He had been battling cancer for a while, and I had the opportunity to see him when he was sent to the hospital near my work a month and a half ago. We live 5 hours away from each other, and our lives went in different directions many years ago, when he got married and I moved away. But we still kept in touch via Facebook and over coffee dates when I was in town.
The week before he passed away, he had been on my mind a lot. So I sent him a message just to say I was thinking of him. A few days later I got a garbled message back from him, telling me, he was in hospice care and he would write later. I immediately wrote back letting him know I was praying for him and how much his friendship had meant to me all these years. But he didn’t write back. Thankfully Facebook tells you when someone has seen your message.
I also got to say the same things to him in the hospital that day I paid him a visit. It had been at least a year or maybe even longer since I had see him. But at that visit we reminisce about old times, movies nights, driving around northern Maine listening to Jimmy Buffett for hours, taking the class to get our motorcycle license, the time I helped him move and clean out his apartment…. I should have gotten the “Friend of the Year” award for the gallons of change I had to carry! I got to tell him how grateful I was for the time he stayed with me after a break up with a crazy ex-boyfriend, whom I had to get a restraining order on. And how if not for his generosity, I would not have been able to attend a semester of college, which I’m sure had I left then, I would not have completed my degree. He always had my back when I worked as a Humane Agent. Whenever I had concerned about some place or someone I received complaint on, he was always there to look them up and let me know if I should go with law enforcement. And he always checked in to make sure I got home safely. I have a lifetime of precious memories of this amazing man, that I am so grateful for.
Although my heart is burdened with such great sadness from the loss of my sweet friend, I feel amazingly blessed to have had someone like him always having my back, protect me, and be an unconditional friend. The world was a better place because he lived. I am a better person, because he was my friend.
I am so very grateful that I had the chance to say good-bye and tell him what was in my heart. I have suffered the loss of MANY important people in my life. Most of them suddenly. And death of a loved one is so hard to navigate, especially when its sudden or unexpected. I was reflecting today on the losses I have suffered, and two that I have the most “peace” with, is his and the passing of my mother’s mother.
In both of these losses, I have experienced a sense of closure. With his, I got to tell him how I felt and what he meant to me. The same with my Gram. I was there with my family surrounding her with love until her last breath. And I was there to bare witness when her soul left her body. The weekend before she went into the hospital, with what we thought was the flu. I was suppose to cut and perm her hair as I did every other month. I promised her when she was home I would do her hair. But she didn’t go home. I kept my promise though.
One of the most humbling, sacred, spiritual and magical experience I have ever had, was doing my grandmother’s hair for the funeral. To be completely honest, I was TERRIFIED of doing it. Our society makes death a very scary and dark thing. But once I got over the fear of walking into the funeral home and with the kind support of the funeral director, it was a beautiful experience. One that had such an profound effect on my life and the way I view death.
What I have learned about death, is that it’s not something to keep behind closed doors. It’s not something to be feared. It’s inevitable. Death is something thing to be discussed and by doing so, it will feel less awkward and frightening. It’s hard not knowing what to say, worrying about saying the wrong thing or upsetting someone. Be gentle with yourself, be open to have the conversation, and say what’s in your heart.
Death is SAD and HEART WRENCHING. Losing a loved one, is hard, REALLY hard. Don’t suffer with the regret of not having the chance to tell those you love how important they are too you, and how much you love them. No one is promised tomorrow.