You’re here in my head.
Like the sun coming out
I just know something good is going to happen.”
– Cloudbusting by Kate Bush
I got a call that a friend died yesterday. This was not someone I see regularly, but our connections were always meaningful and I valued her presence in my life. She is someone I’d known through other people, but we had spent some time together in a spirituality group a couple of years ago that was an experience I came to value.
What I always admired about her was her sense of presence and calm. She was older than I am, and had moved away from the hectic human service “work until they suck you dry” mentality that many of us in social service fields have. Instead, she embraced her desire for quiet spaces and time to herself, which she noted made her value even more the time spent with friends and family.
She was coming to the party — in fact, she had emailed earlier this week that she was hoping to be original in her pot-luck contribution and not contribute the “1,000th potato salad.” And now she’s gone — just like that. A reminder of how fast things change, it easily brought me back to the very beginning of this journey we’ve been on.
When I returned to work after VB’s diagnosis, she was one of the first people I saw, and she broke through my “work shield” with a big hug and tears of understanding. She had been in quite a serious car accident over this past winter, and had made a remarkable recovery — which makes her passing more of a surprise to those who knew her. Even when she was almost unable to move and in very real physical pain, she continued to take time to email and remind me that she was one of the legion praying for VB.
Our experience has taught me that death and tragedy serve to bring people together in ways never before imagined. Many of the gaggle of people (that would be some of you) who are descending on my in-laws lawn in a matter of hours are people I never expected would play such an important role over this past year. New friends and family have entered our lives, and one’s previously thought relegated to history have made surprising and special returns. Relationships long-standing have deepened, and my wife and I are pouring with gratitude.
As we gather together today to celebrate my son’s life and the community that worked to save it, I will think of my friend. I will remember the spirit she imparted to me, and the wisdom she had that I now have within me. I will gather in a small group with those who knew her and feel again loss and connection.
And the sun will shine and my son will bounce in his big bouncy-house and the world will, for one shining afternoon, be the place of peace and serenity my friend always envisioned.