I remember dialing her number and hoping that it would go to voicemail. I had absolutely no idea what to say or do. I couldn’t fathom her pain and I definitely didn’t want to say anything that would make it worse.
I cried and said that I was sorry. She said thank you and we both cried. I told her that I was there for her, not really knowing what that meant at the time, but I was there when she needed me (again I had no idea what that meant). I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to be a good friend ~ I had no idea how to be a good friend to someone who has lost a child.
It was the following Fall, and my friend’s daughter was in school and Anna was in pre-school. We would meet for coffee every other Friday. I was extremely nervous, I didn’t want to be emotional in front of her and I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Sometimes I was at a loss for words, not wanting to say the wrong thing. Sometimes I said the wrong thing.
I remember one day we sat and talked about how people interact with her since Harry went to Heaven. She said the hardest was when people didn’t say anything at all, didn’t acknowledge her grief or even worse, avoided her. She said that in those moments it was extremely difficult because all she wanted to do was talk and share about Harry, share about his sweet face and his beautiful smile. She wanted people to never forget and the avoidance was a sign that her life was too hard for them.
What do you say to someone who is experiencing a pain you can’t even imagine ~ a pain you don’t want to imagine? What do you do when someone’s life is hard ~ do you avoid them or embrace them through their suffering?
There is no doubt that my words weren’t always the right ones but what I have learned through my own experience of grief is that my friend didn’t need words from me she just needed me to be present, to cry with her, laugh with her, talk about Harry with her and let her just be…on the good days and on the bad ones.
Talking about Harry brings her joy, especially when telling stories and when talking about how he filled the space in her arms. This joy often comes with tears because this joy is of the purest form of love and the distance between Heaven and earth can’t separate the pure love that a mother has for her child.
Her tears were ones of longing to hold, to touch and to kiss Harry.
I now know this same joy and experience these same tears and my friend has created a safe space for me to just be. For the past 15 months she has been a life line, sending me text messages letting me know she loves me, is thinking about me and is there when I’m ready to go get coffee.
Yesterday morning we had breakfast at a fun little cafe in our town. We talked, shared stories about our kids, laughed and cried. It was perfect.
She understands what my heart is going through in a way most don’t. She is holding me and I am holding her.
I love you Caroline!
PS. We both love talking about our kids and there is no greater compliment than to be referred to as Harry’s mom or Anna and Abby’s mom.