I’ve been having a rough week. Physically, emotionally and spiritually.
But let me give you a back story first.
When I was 13 years old, I met my best friend. I had been hanging at a mutual friend’s house at the time when Erica burst through the door, blood running down her leg and tears down her face. Erica’s parents had gone out for the night and she was home alone doing ‘girl stuff’ (washing hair, shaving legs, mani & pedi…etc) When she sliced her shin open shaving her leg. It was 7 at night, she was home alone and in her mind, it seemed like a lot of blood. She hobbled across the street to her friend’s house for help and bumped into me. While our mutual friend went to a neighbor’s house for help, I applied pressure to the wound, wiped her tears and told her a joke or too.
Fast forward 26 years later.
We (Erica and I) have four children between us. We have nursed each other through boyfriends, breakups, bad hair, kidney stones, graduations, job losses, weight gain, engagements, weddings pregnancies…everything. She is that one singular person that understands me. There is nothing about me she doesn’t know. She is my best friend. We can converse by looks alone. I sincerely think there is nothing in the world we can’t handle together.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so arrogant.
Fast forward to last Sunday.
She calls me to tell me that her heater went out. The place is freezing and the kids are cold.
“Pack your stuff, I’ll come get you guys”
Her husband Joe greets me at the door as I walk in. We joke about the heater going out and how we have extra layers of fat to keep us warm. The kids think this is great that they get to sleep over ‘Nona’s’ house (Nona was a name I was christened with when their oldest child learned to speak)
I asked Joe if he was coming along to enjoy the heat.
“Nah, I have these little heaters and an electric blanket..I’m just gonna wrap myself in the blanket and play my computer games….and enjoy a nice quiet house to myself”
He kissed his wife and his kids goodbye and told the kids to be good.
During the night, he had a stroke. Erica and I found him Monday morning, moaning in pain, with glassy eyes that were staring straight through us. We didn’t hesitate, I called an ambulance while she held his face in her hands telling him that help was on the way.
Tuesday afternoon, December 10th 2013 at 5:45pm, he breathed his last.
And her heart was shattered.
I was there when she told her three children their father was dead. I was there to hear their daughter scream out for her father, to hold their two sons as they sobbed, to hold my friend as she wept for the husband she loved. I could feel their heartbreak in my chest, like a physical pain. These are ‘our babies’ after all. I watched them be born, I held them after their father. I’ve stood as godmother to at least two of them. I chose the name of their younger son when they couldn’t decide. We are a family made through love and friendship. Their loss was my loss.
I couldn’t help them, I couldn’t make it ‘better’
I have never in all my life felt as helpless and as heartbroken as I have in the past week. Not even when I lost my own father did I feel such raw agony. I was 35 when my father died and I couldn’t understand why this had happened. Now I was trying to explain a loss of this magnitude to a 13 year old and two 7 year olds.
I took a picture of the twins before we told them. They gave me silly smiles, their cheeks were pink from playing in the snow all day. I wanted to capture the moment before….before they knew real pain. The last moment of their ‘old life’
Now they all have to get used to a new normal. Life without Joe. Life without Daddy. They have learned new words, like ‘death, dead and funeral.’ Words that even grownups don’t like (and some still don’t understand)
But my faith in humanity is unshaken. The outpouring for this family, for MY family is amazing. But long after the crowds stop calling, stop asking ‘Is there anything I can do?’ I will still be there, with my best friend, helping these kids like always. Not because I feel superior or need a pat on the back, but because things are still as they have always been, as they will always be…
me and my best friend
Donations are still be accepted and greatly appreciated.
Thank you and Happy Holidays