My heart hurts to even write this. I'm struggling. The past two months have been the absolute hardest for me. The end of the school year brought no break between work and the kids crazy schedules. And then June emotionally has been extremely tough although it has brought some very sweet moments as well as some wonderful memories.
Today is my birthday and I should feel something but I don't really feel anything but exhausted. My best friend passed away a month ago. And I am still struggling with it while trying to muscle the kids through their first year of being without their Dad.
She was struggling. I never believed her to be feeling the way she was about life but I believe her family and loved ones and myself weren't quite sure what was going on for the better part of her last two years. And while I can only speculate and guess with what she was struggling with, my job was to be her listening ear.
What I do know is that she was there for me. She was always there for me. Her giggles since I knew her in high school could make any bad day better. She and I indulged in many a pint night (aka head to the grocery store and get a pint of ice cream) in college over bad dates and break ups. During college she and I both got married and she quickly went on to have a beautiful girl. It was amazing to see her as a Mom. She and her husband after marrying were struggling here in Utah and they decided to move away shortly after their first was born to live closer to family where he was from. Our paths may have stopped crossing as frequently and our couples date nights ended and we went a few years with just brief exchanges as we had babies, raised babies, and got busy with life but we were able to surprise each other with visits when the kids were a little older and never stopped talking after that. Time could pass and when we talked it was like no time had ever passed.
But then she got divorced and things got tough for her. I reached out periodically but was met with "I love you, I'm struggling. I'm okay. I will talk to you when I'm in a better place. Trying to get through this." I made sure I continued to periodically reach out but also understood her need for space. She and I knew that time didn't real pass for us even if it did. Every month or so I would make sure that I reached out and let her know that I was thinking about her and was here and available if she needed me. Sometimes she would answer, and sometimes I would get silence.
And then my own marriage unravelled. and she was the first person there to help me. I was nervous, scared and didn't know what to do but my gut was SCREAMING at me that something was wrong. I knew something was going on but I didn't know what. "If your gut is screaming at you, you need to face it or you need to continue going on with life the way it is and be OK with it" she said to me on the phone one night. "If you face it, be prepared to NOT like what you see because your gut is already telling you something is wrong." I decided to face it for the first time in almost 15 years of our marriage and her next message was, "C'mon, this will be fun!!! Send me some phone numbers you don't know on your phone log. Let's investigate!!" she exclaimed excitedly. We stayed up until midnight talking on the phone and pouring through phone bills, credit card bills, phone and text logs on what should've been the worst night of my life (and by far it was!) but instead had me laughing hysterically like we did in high school and college. Only as time wound down and the reality of my situation and the decision I would need to make hit after retracing my then husband's final steps over the past few years. It left me at the end of the conversation crying. Like huge hysterical sobs. Which is very atypical of me. I'm one that can usually keep it together. Her answer before she hung up? " 'Kay, I'm going to hang up now. Just let yourself feel the emotions. Get your good cry in. You're going to hurt really, really bad for awhile. It's going to suck. But you've got this. I love you and I'm here for you, whatever you decide."
Three years of craziness would ensue on my end after that night. She and I kept in frequent contact. We were both juggling single motherhood and exes and finances and me my master's program. but not more than two weeks went by without contact. We made sure that we reached out to each other every couple of weeks even if it was just a funny story or note of encouragement. I made a trip out to see her and her girls. She came out and stayed for my ex husband's funeral and several days after my ex husband died. Not more than two weeks ever went by that we didn't reach out to each other to make sure we were both doing okay. I was planning to see her with my youngest while my two oldest kids were away at camp this past week but never got the chance.
I talked to her several days before she passed away. The conversation wasn't overly upbeat and not overly depressing. I didn't have signs. No red flags. No words that stuck out to me. She passed away several days after but I didn't find out until a week after her funeral. My life is so chaotic now trying to juggle everything with the kids and it was the last couple weeks of school that a couple weeks went by after our last conversation. I went to text her one night to check in, same as we always do if we don't hear from each other. I had the impression very strongly to check her Facebook. 'Okay, weird' I thought to myself. I went to her Facebook page and there were messages posted on her profile. Goodbyes and 'love you's.' NO. NO NO NO. I googled her name and her obituary came up. OBITUARY. Please NO I thought. I started sobbing. Heart wrenching sobs. Sobs for her girls. Our family knows too well what they are feeling. Guilt for having not checked in sooner. How could I be so selfish and wrapped up in my OWN world that I didn't reach out sooner?? I didn't go to her funeral! She had been there for me but I hadn't been there for her. I knew in my heart that she wouldn't be upset at all about that--she has been here to help me and knows I run around crazy all day and weeks feel like days right now...but I still can't help but feel guilty. And guilt for not seeing signs or something! I spent SEVEN years in school training to identify this. Shouldn't I have seen SOMETHING in my own best friend?? I replayed our last conversation over and over and over in my mind. I still do a month later...trying to wrack my mind for clues. Anything that I might have missed. My heart breaks for my kids too. They considered her an aunt and she was crucial to them in the days after their Dad's passing. Her Dad passed away as a teenager and so many of her words in those first few days after their Dad passed away have carried with them through these tough months.
And now another person is gone. Our dreams of going on wheelchair cruises as silver sneaker seniors is gone. We won't be sharing a nursing home together. We won't have those nights out where my practicality balances her out and her personality allows me to let go of my Type A for a little while. My kids won't come downstairs during one of our phone conversations and hear us giggling hysterically anymore. They won't be able to shake their heads at some of our conversations we have. They won't be able to roll their eyes as we show them our college and high school photos and show them how cool we totally thought we were. They won't have her encouraging them on when things get tough. She won't leave cute video messages for the kids anymore. Those days will have to wait awhile.
I don't know why or what led her to leave so many people who loved her behind. I'm sure there are many others who have positive stories like mine to share about her as well as wishing we had answers to many questions. I don't know that I've come to terms with the why. I'm not sure I'm okay with it. But I understand. I've felt those feelings that she must have had. I know the pain she must have been feeling. I feel it now. It's awful, it's excruciating and then a crazy numbness sets in. A numbness unlike anything else. It gets exhausting to feel that way. It feels like you are dragging around weights all day long. It feels like waves keep knocking you down for hours and hours on end and you have to keep getting up. Finally your body just gets too exhausted. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping it will get better. And it does. Slowly. Never the same. But slowly.
And at the end of the day, it just hurts. It hurts to miss another person. It hurts to know more people are hurting because of her loss. It just hurts. My heart goes out to her, her family and friends and my family. We love you and I promise you will never be forgotten!