This is post about death. If you are not comfortable with that subject please stop reading.
On Thursday I was on the office phone with my Mom, happily talking to her about the skiing trip that I had planned for today. My sister and I, and a couple of friends, were going to spend Sunday and Monday at Camelback mountain in Pennsylvania. It was my sister’s first time on skis, so we were super excited. We were also looking forward to the feeling of being free.
My cell phone rang and it was my friend A. I answered and asked if I could call her right back. She said: “no, my daughter is dead”.
I felt as if I had been punched on the stomach. Her neighbor came on the line and gave me the grim details. My friend A. had just found her 24 year old daughter dead from an overdose.
I hung up and went back to my mom, that had been waiting on the line. At that moment I didn’t know how to give her such news, so I lied. I said: “Please pray for A’s daughter, she is not doing well”.
I paced back and forth a for a minute, feeling momentarily lost. Then I put my coat on and walked to her house. I got there as 3 detectives were leaving. They told me my friend was inside.
A. was surrounded by a couple of friends that I hadn’t met before. She was repeating to herself that her daughter was dead and she was a bad mother. My heart broke for her. The women that were there started to say a prayer. She ran out of the house. I ran after her.
I caught up with her. I said the usual platitudes, not knowing exactly what to say. We just walked up and down the street for awhile.
What could I have said that would have made any difference? At that point I don’t think that she was even capable of hearing anything.
She alternated from silence to admonishing herself. She didn’t really let herself cry until much later. I stayed with her until later in the evening. I left when additional friends and family arrived.
“Death is not the end
Death can never be the end.
Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The Soul is the Guide
Our mind thinks of death.
Our heart thinks of life
Our soul thinks of Immortality”
The next day, I went with her to the funeral home. Because of Covid they were only allowing 2 people to be there. The family asked me to go.
The girl had mentioned to her sister and friends that she wanted to be cremated. The mother didn’t want that but, after a lot thought, decided to abide by her wishes.
There had been a lot back and forth amongst the family as to the issue of burial or cremation. Some family members also felt the mother had to see her daughter one last time to say good bye. They, themselves, wanted to see her and say a last good bye.
It turned out that no one could see her. An autopsy is being performed and then cremation. In these situations, there is what we think happens, what we think it should happen, and then there is what actually happens.
So many people, well intentioned, had a lot of advice to give. The mother was confused and second-guessing herself. My advise, as in any situation, is to pray asking for guidance.
I said to A., as I say to all, follow your heart. Unfortunately, now is the time for acceptance. We can only do so much, and the rest we need to accept. She needs to make the decisions she can live with it.
She has already gone through so much. I am not listing here all her hardships, as I feel I would be invading her privacy. Trust me, even before this tragedy, I often said to her: “I don’t know how you do it”.
She had tried so hard to save her daughter. In the end, nothing could have saved her, but herself.
How does one convince a mother that all is going to be okay? What is okay for a mother that lost her child? Nothing will ever be the same, and yet life has to go on. Normal has now another meaning for her.
I continue to believe that after every tragedy there are miracles. I will forever look for them.
Cherish life! It is fleeting.
… and as I write this, I just learned that the brother of a lady I know, a successful married father, jumped from a bridge to his death…
the feeling of powerlessness and sadness attempts to take over as I search for rainbows and miracles. I pray. I hope. No matter what.
“there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and even during the
the greatest times
we will know it
we will know it
there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
we will wait
in that space.”