Submitted by: Maya
I’m in a unique situation as I grow older with my lovely girl and boy friends around me. I’m happy. Most of them seem to be struggling or preparing for a struggle. I don’t know what to do about this.
I had the misfortune to lose my brother at the age of 14. He was my hero, I could see my beauty in his eyes every time I looked at him. He was the first one who caught a glimpse of my heart and encouraged me to expand it, to grow it, to live it while our sisters took different, greedier paths that brought them short-lived joys and trips to dangerous places.
Because of my brother I was a candy striper, I volunteered to work at after school care in the darkest parts of a restless city. I worked at a children’s hospital trying to bring joy to sick and needy families grieving at the conditions of critically ill or critically injured sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. I discovered that I was well-suited to service. I learned that I have a gift in helping others to find their way again. My brother encouraged that in me. When we lost him, our father and I turned to his young family to help corral their loss and to keep us all whole. This was a full-time job that we shared.
My mother was stalwart, understanding my need to work with people grieving. She begged me to stay home some nights, to let my sister-in-law deal with her two infant sons on her own but we both knew that those nights would result in late-night phone calls, crying babies and a woman in deep distress. I had a journey that had to be taken then, my path was well-lit.
In too short years after, I lost my parents at ages far too young for parents to leave, ages too young for me to become an orphan. I had to sift through their lives and learn more about them by the things they left behind. I had to figure out their thinking, their journeys ~ all by myself. I learned to open up to what is placed in front of me and to take it all in as my lesson.
But that was a lifetime ago. For far too long, I’ve done it all on my own.
Right now my friends are dealing with the natural orders of things. Parents and siblings growing older, needier, weaker as their daughters shoulder the burdens of the inevitable. I can see their faces marked by grief. I feel them, edgy, verging on tears, feeling incapable of moving on.
This past weekend, in three different ‘coffee dates’, I sat with a total of six close friends in the Australian winter sun. We have standing meetings to celebrate birthdays and friendships yet in these three instances, there was a pall over our tables that caused even me to cry. And each time when they turned to me for MY life’s update, all I could come up with … ‘it gets better’.
Grief is such a personal event and we all go through it when we feel absolutely incapable of facing it. Grief never comes on time, we are always blindsided. And another thing that I discovered ~ it doesn’t happen so much when you would anticipate it, ie: my friend Kate coped well through the unexpected death of her adored mother ~ but the death of one of her sisters has knocked her to her last gasp of her breath. She thought that she was prepared, her sister had been ill with heart problems for years, the last seven months in the hospital, and this loss is suffocating my friend.
I looked at my friends, each a woman of outstanding character and capacity and saw nothing but raw grief. I sat in the circle yet outside of the pain, trying to remember what I fought so hard to forget. Trying to say the right thing, trying to ease their pain. And all I could say was…
‘it gets better’…