A friend who had been ill passed away. Tears, sadness, anger…and, eventually, memories that bring smiles.
When we lose a loved one, we experience a flood of thoughts and emotions. But, if we stop to think about why we are experiencing this range of emotions, we realize that the blessing of that relationship will not disappear so quickly; in fact, never.
I worked with my friend for many years, but I know the relationship spanned many more years. I say this actually not remembering our first meeting. In my mind’s eye, I guess she’d always been a part of my adult experience.
Present in my place of worship, present where one child went to school and all of my children went to religious school, present in my place of work. That place of work brought us closest together, but all of those encounters will be taken with me throughout the remainder of my own life.
The smile I will always remember, but the example she set for children and adults, alike, is what will always stay with me, and so many others. She never stopped thinking, even when she took a break from work. She might have been floating on a raft in a pool, but her brain was solving a problem or planning a program. How can I engage that child? How can I help that teacher? What can I do for the family?
She was smart, loving, kind, patient, and true. And she never forgot what was most important to her: family and religion. Her children and husband are left with a multitude of feelings and thoughts, I am sure. But, when the dust settles, when they are finally able to find their way out of the darkness of sadness and loss, they will be able to move forward with the example she set for them every single day, one heartbeat at a time. Just imagine how many generations will be impacted by the wonderful example she set as a wife, mother, friend, and mentor.
And this was not a woman who defined family by examining DNA. Whether one saw her daily or weekly, in person or via technology, once you were family, you knew you were family forever. If that was what you wanted, of course; not everyone is meant to be a part of our “forever” lives. But that doesn’t mean her impact would diminish; she simply became a part of your soul.
Regardless of who you are, where you go, or what you face in life, the influence of your friends will be with us forever. Somewhere deep inside, if not on the surface, we’ll still be able to think of the example set, and then put one foot in front of the other. We’ll work to meet each goal, we’ll try to respond to difficult situations with courage and grace, and simply do our best each and every day.
Will we miss the physical presence less because of this? No. But we were lucky to know her. We were lucky to have her in our lives. And for this, we will be forever grateful.
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Photograph by Kristina Litvjak.