I’m That

My friend’s mother died.

Three years ago it looked as if her newly-diagnosed disease would take her life shortly. It was a really bad week. I knew when she died, I would not be able to stand in card aisle to get sympathy cards for my friend and all her family members. I brought a stack of cards home that day, glad the task was done, but superstitious that my buying the cards was inviting her death.  It wasn’t. They sat in my stationery box for months. Eventually they found other recipients.

I have no idea how to get the story from her recovery to here. Among the cards and envelopes I’d brought to the hotel (a moving tip from the organizing guru my friend turned me on to), I didn’t have any to send as sympathy notes. I loathe those cards. Those generic, awful, stupid, ugly hotel art flower cards.

Where are the cards that announce, “This is bull, and I’m sorry for all the stupid things people are going to say to you when they just mean to comfort you. Please forgive us all.”

Where are the cards that say, as my friend said in her breathtaking eulogy, “When a parent dies, a part of you dies, too.”

I am misquoting her. She never misquotes.

I did ask my friend’s permission to write about this. Some of you might know who I’m talking about, but I wanted to let her remain private. That’s my privacy issue (says the blogger), not hers. She encouraged me to at least reveal a few identifying details, such as the two separate men in overalls as well as the toothless lady in my hotel lobby this morning. C’mon, people! I was trying to be open-minded about the south!

But I feel strange talking about my own grief. Is there a term for mourning on behalf of someone? How do you talk about your heart breaking for someone else? I’m not necessarily grieving for that spirited mom who has passed, but for my beloved friend who is in darkness.

Whatever the term is for that, I’m that.

My wish is that I were as good with words as she is. I would take my “that” and turn it into a poem for her to read underneath the covers when she’s having trouble falling to sleep. My “that” would sweep up her broken heart many times a day. It would whisper inside jokes. It would wrap its arms her and just sit in silence.

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5 Responses to I’m That

  1. Catherine says:

    Damn. I’m glad to have you as a friend. I can’t imagine a better friend to have – knowing that someone empathizes with you and is thinking of you because they love you so much and can’t bear to see you in pain. I’m lucky to have you, and so is your friend who lost her mother. I wish peace of mind and relief to your friend, and as always, the best to you and yours.

  2. Liz says:

    Ummm, at the risk of sounding trite, I recently read a memoir by a really great writer who lost her mom when she was still pretty young. (Her mom was my age when she passed—-yikes!) I might recommend reading that. Not right away, but someday it might be helpful be able to identify with someone who shared a similar experience. It always helps me get through things by learning that others have gone through something similar and survived, and maybe they can help provide me with another perspective. Anyway, the book is “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. She dealt with her mother’s death by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, so there’s a lot of hiking in the book, too. It’s a very emotional book, but I had trouble putting it down.

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