It’s Friday and it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitudes. And usually, this is a fun post giving thanks to all the good things that happened to me during the week.
But this weeks post is going to be a little different. I hope you “bear” with me. (See what I did there?)
The truth is that my heart has been pretty heavy this week.
On Monday morning I heard the song Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Obviously, I had heard the song many times before but for some reason, the song stuck out to me.
I had arrived home and saw that I had a message from my friend Charlotte.
(You met her here). Charlotte is an old friend from high and Charlotte is not her real name. I try not to use the names of the living in my blog so my friends get blog names. Her name is Charlotte because that was her French Class name and we sat next to each other in French class and she got stuck with me as a friend.
The text from Charlotte had devastating news. She had heard that a high school friend Allison had passed away. Being the detectives that we are, we looked for clues on social media. We had nothing definite but I felt it in the pit of my stomach.
Finally, in the evening, we saw a post from her brother confirming the news we were fearing, that she had passed away.
Allison and I were friends in high school. I always wondered why a girl who was so cool would want to be friends with the socially awkward, hyperverbal girl with a Boston accent (I had moved from the Boston area to Maine the summer before high school).
Obviously, we graduated from high school and lost touch in college. It was an era before Facebook.
I saw her once in the mid 2000’s. I was at Mass at our towns Catholic Church, St. Joe’s and she was there with her father. We ran up to each other after Mass and hugged.
And I hadn’t seen her since. We lost contact again.
I reconnected with her on Facebook shortly after Bryon died. She came back into my life during my darkest days and she was my biggest cheerleaders when I was trying to pick up the pieces of my life. I could always count on her to like all my lame pictures on Instagram. I don’t know if she realized how much her kindness affected me.
I know I was just a drop in a bucket of all the people she touched and helped but I am really going to miss her.
It just doesn’t seem fair. A group of us high school friends started talking about taking a trip to Quebec City to recreate the shenanigans from our French IV trip in 1996. Now when we go, she won’t be there.
I was hoping to meet up with her. I was in her area this spring and I thought about seeing if she was around but it was a bachelorette weekend. It was busy and I was there for my friend who was getting married. I decided I would try to meet up with her next time.
This is a harsh reminder that we don’t always get a next time.
Today is her funeral and I am sad that I won’t be able to attend to say good-bye. I thought about it. It would be doable if I dropped my daughter off at daycare when they open. But being her only parent, I get nervous traveling three hours away. What if something happened?
I thought about taking my daughter out of school that day and bringing her. I asked her if she wanted to go to Pennsylvania for a funeral and or stay here and go to school. She chose to go to school. I can’t blame her. She’s a few months short of 4 and has already been to more than her fair share of wakes and funerals.
I asked again, this time changing the inflection and tone of my voice to be all excited and I asked her if she wanted to go to Pennsylvania for a funeral and then I changed my tone to boring and asked if she wanted to stay here and go to school. She still chose to go to school. I can’t fool that girl. She is so smart.
As one last Hail Mary, I looked at the map to see how close Bethlehem, PA was to Sesame Place. Surely she would want to go to a funeral if we could do a side trip to Sesame Place but it was too far out of the way.
I wanted to go to support her family. They are good people. Her father had been our high school principal and her mother was a nurse. Her siblings are great too. I know they are going to have some dark days ahead. Though I know that my presence wouldn’t lessen their pain. Not at all.
I admit, after my grandmother died, I thought I was unable to feel grief because I survived Bryon’s death. But Allison’s death has hit me harder than I thought it would.
I don’t know why.
Maybe it’s because I am close to two years out from Bryon’s death and some of that numbness is going away. I am starting to feel again.
Maybe it’s because with Bryon’s death, I was so involved that I didn’t get the opportunity to sit back and reflect about my own mortality at a young age. I was too busy surviving and existing. But with Allison’s death, I am removed enough to reflect on the fact that she is my age and she’s gone and people aren’t supposed to die this young.
I have been lucky that I have been able to lean on Charlotte and another friend. We have all been leaning on each other.
But it leads me to another question- why does it take someone’s death to bring people closer together? Why can’t it just be normal human behavior to appreciate people as a baseline? Why do we need to wait until a death and trauma to realize we care about people?
Then I started to wonder why the people with the brightest lights seem to get extinguished early. Like Allison. And Bryon.
At least I know that Heaven (or the Fifth Dimension, or the other side or wherever spirits go when they leave this world) must be a beautiful place. Because people like Allison and Bryon are there.
(I did ask Bryon to give her a hug. So when a tall, handsome, smart and hysterically funny man from Upstate New York gives her hug, I hope she is not alarmed.)
So why am I writing this in my Gratitude Friday post?
I am writing about this because my heart feels heavy and I just don’t feel like writing and posting pictures of the scrunchies I saw in Wal-Mart even if I am grateful and excited that 90’s fashion has made a comeback.
When someone dies too soon, it is easy to dwell on the loss, but I am choosing to be grateful.
I am writing this post because I am truly grateful that Allison was in my life.
For befriending the socially awkward girl with the Boston accent and making her feel cool.
For the memories.
For sharing all her adventures on Instagram and letting us follow her along.
For being a light.
For filling the world with love.
For being an inspiration.
For sharing the struggles she overcame with honesty and grace.
For being a good example on how to live.
I am also grateful for this reminder to appreciate those in my life.
I am going to end this with the Prayer of St. Francis. It feels fitting because she lived the message. And because she loved animals and St. Francis was the Patron Saint of Animals.