Yesterday morning I had the chance to have a nearly two hour conversation with one of my dearest friends. Just under a month ago my friend lost her mom to cancer. The conversation didn’t start out talking about that, though. Instead, we spent nearly forty five minutes discussing everything else we needed to catch up on. Because we talk about everything . . . there was much to say! Eventually, the conversation naturally turned to her mother’s passing.

I listened. She talked about the truths we learn when someone intimately close to us dies. The words people share in an attempt to comfort. Words that, at times, miss the mark. All of the empty sayings meant to move us toward believing the death of our loved one is a good thing, in the long run. She’s out of pain now. She’s in a better place. She’s happy where she is. Her time here was up and God needed her more. My beautiful friend cried as she told me how angry those words make her. I get it. I understand. None of those bits of intended comfort  soothe us when all we want is our loved one back. Next to us. Alive. 

This was the first opportunity we’d had the time to have a lengthy conversation since her mother’s death. But, I’d been thinking about her and her family since I first learned her mother was home with hospice. 

I don’t know what it is like to hold vigil at the bedside of a loved one as they die. I didn’t have the chance to have the time to say goodbye to my daughter. I don’t know if I could bear it. The waiting for the inevitable. That takes strength and my friend is one of the strongest women I know.

But, I could hear the tiredness in her voice as it wavered between happy and sad. Not only from the pain and mourning she is passing through now, but also the realization that her life has been altered. There is a heartbreak that has been added to her soul that she will carry with her for the rest of her days. She’s already bone tired and has decades ahead of her to live through.

Every single one of us has been living through a very difficult year. And, this was in my mind as I thought about my friend. Her year moved into hellish when her mom died. Then, the funeral had to be cancelled because of positive Covid cases in the immediate family. My amazing friend, and her family, could not celebrate and mourn her mother in the traditional way. Her mother was taken. A wife. A grandmother. Aunt. Sister. Daughter. Friend. All those who love her could not come together for comfort. That’s not fair.

I worry about the weight of it all for her. With small children to care for and worry about through this pandemic. Her father, who just lost the love of his life, mourning in isolation because of this pandemic. Her children, not having school as a distraction from the loss of their grandmother. Every day it’s just more to carry. I worry about them.

I worry about everyone.

I worry about myself. 

Each year, since losing Becca, has gotten a bit easier to navigate. I’ve gotten stronger or things weigh less. I’m not sure. I have from February until somewhere around Labor Day to “rest” and gather reserves of strength I’ll need to use when the year turns toward my darkest days. Well, those dark days are just around the corner and I don’t feel like I have any strength to fall back on. I haven’t had the chance to gather any. None of us have.

Since this all started I have been certain that another one of my children will die. I was making and mailing them masks within the first week it was said we needed them. Their Easter basket boxes had multiple bottles of hand sanitizer in them. I begged Matthew to come home from DC so I could make sure he remained healthy. The thought of either of them going out in public brought me to tears. 

When you’ve lost a child you know that the death of another is a real possibility. Probability.

It only took about six weeks but I got down off that ledge, eventually.

My twins turn twenty seven a week from today. I won’t see them for their birthday and they won’t be together this year. That saddens me. Becca’s birthday is eleven days after the boys’. She would have been thirty seven this year. She missed out on so much.

Because of the raging pandemic I am not sure what the holiday season holds. There is a good chance I won’t see either of them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then, the inescapable turn of the year. I’ll live through another twenty one day period in which I try to figure out how to reach my hand through the stack of January 21st’s and save her from dying again. 

I won’t figure it out. I never do. I’d give my own life if I could. 

I reached a breaking point today. It is all just too much.

There is so much sadness in the world.

Our government halted aid to help the children in cages, at the border, with their mental health. 

There are record numbers of people dying from this virus and we haven’t figured out how to stop it.

Those I love are carrying heavy burdens of their own and I can’t help them.

People are losing jobs, savings, homes in trying to survive these difficult times. 

Mental health is taking a hit.

I want my daughter back.

People are going to bed unsure what tomorrow will bring. 

The planet is on fire and we are watching it die.

Our connectivity is fragile because we have to isolate . . . yet we NEED to be together.

We need each other. 

I need every single person who is in my life in order to get through it. 

I am going to go to bed in a few minutes. It’s time to call this day. I know I am going to cry myself to sleep. I will cry for my daughter who I long to hold. For my boys who are so loved by me. For the other bereaved mothers I know. And, the mothers who are going to bed tonight with fear for their own childrens’ wellbeing. For the children in cages with little hope of seeing their mothers again. For those sitting vigil at a loved one’s bedside. For the person who did the best they could today and are unsure as to how to do it again tomorrow. For every person I know, and love, because these are terrifying times. For the new mother, who brought a precious life into the world, and doesn’t know what the world is going to end up being. For the inhumanity that seems so rampant in today’s world. 

And, I cry for my friend as her tears fall over the death of her mother. 

Love each other. Please. That is the absolute best we can do in this world.

Author: Diane Neas

I'm a mother, artist, and writer. A decade ago I lost my daughter. I find writing, and painting, heal me. Sharing my story of loss and healing lightens what I carry. And, hopefully, my words help another along the way.

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