Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sad

So you'll have to forgive me for not posting. Not that anyone was checking. I mean, if you're like me. But what are the odds that since December 19th you have all had two kids' Christmas programs, family coming in from out of town, three kids with fevers, two kids with snotty noses and coughs that keep the entire family up all night, one kid with an up all night 24 hours o' sick (if you know what I mean) stomach bug, and a husband grading 20+ graduate level term papers on the computer from dawn to dusk. Actually, that may be exactly what everyone else's life has been like. Well, maybe except for the graduate level paper grading. One thing that has happened that did not seem appropriate to list in my silly recap is that a close friend of mine, one of the girls who was in my wedding, actually, has lost her husband. It was very sudden and right before Christmas. He was about our age (well, if you are thirty) and in excellent shape, but he had a heart attack. It is strange that now that we are older, some of the dearest people in the lives of some of the dearest people to us are virtually strangers. I guess I mean that I know my sisters and my close friends so well, have lived with them and cried with them and laughed with them, and yet for many of them I have only met their husband a handful of times. Or their children maybe not at all. My nieces live in France. That stinks. And it is much the same way with my dear friend who at one time I must've eaten near every meal with and gone on road trips and vacations with.

At one point after graduation, we were emailing or talking every day in spite of being hours away from each other with completely different jobs and daily routines. But with more changes and getting settled into our new homes, we were less and less in touch. There are a kind of people who are forever dear to you and warm your heart when you think of them, and yet they are not part of your life in the way they once were. I know this happens inevitably; it is no one's fault and maybe not even a bad thing. But you don't mean for it to or want it to. And then, when tragedy strikes, it is that much more difficult to know what to do. What should you do when your heart is breaking for her and yet it would take you 12 hours to get to her? Two sick kids at home and a sick husband, parents on the way from out of town for the Christmas program at school, four days before Christmas. I didn't go. I didn't really see how I could. But on the other hand, I know that if it had been another friend, one who lives in the same city who was also in my wedding, hell could not have kept me away.

So it gets you thinking about relationships. I guess it is normal and natural that some friends are closer than others. But it also had me thinking about the loss of different types of relationships. Another close friend had a parent die a few years back. This drive would have been ten hours away for me, and I don't really remember thinking that I should be there. I remember wishing that I could be, but it was ten hours away and I would have to stay in a hotel and it did not occur to me to rearrange my life to make it work. And is it because of course our parents will die in our lifetime (though certainly not for many years we hope)? But a spouse, which is a more important and intimate relationship anyway, is supposed to grow old with you. But this is a very vulgar thing to talk about maybe.

I wonder though. I don't travel to weddings as much as I wish. And I don't think I have ever been on a trip to be present for someone's baptism. I don't think I have really ever been invited. And why don't we invite people to baptisms? Why don't we make a big deal out of them? Maybe because we just gave birth and we're beat! Maybe because it isn't as widely done in our culture as these other events. Of course, you don't expect to be invited to a funeral. A funeral is a different type of affair. Most people would be grieving a loss and therefore the rest of us are not sure how to behave. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to behave at my own grandmother's funeral. One minute, there was laughter over a funny story or delight in seeing a relative I hadn't seen in a while, and the next there was nearly uncontrollable sadness that felt a little embarrassing. I burst into tears at my husband's grandmother's funeral and pretty nearly shocked the rest of his family as I had only met her a few times.

I think that these things are part of what keeps me away. I did want to be there for my friend in her grief, but I will confess that I was a little relieved to be unable to go. Would I say the wrong thing? Would I be in the way? Would my friend think it was strange for me to make so much effort to come when she has dozens of friends closer than I? Would my friend think it was strange for me to make so little effort as not to come when I among her three dozen closest friends? I also had a strange thought in the back of my mind that to these girls I will soon be "the pastor's wife," which has all manner of silly connotations that I will just tell you are not me. Yet, I think if I were one of them, a little out of touch with this old friend who is married to a (almost) pastor, I might think or expect something "pastor's wife-y" from me. Would I get the benefit of the doubt and be considered as sort of fine no matter what because I am the "religious one" or would I have to live up to some perfect and polished pastoral standard of Southern cultural Christianity?

Am I the only one who thinks of things this way? I am not saying this is the most appropriate or sensible way to consider things like this. I am just wondering if anyone else thinks of these things. I guess besides missing a chance to be a friend to her, I do feel a little guilty that I have all of these thoughts attached to the situation. I never have just pure and simple feelings, they are always coupled with strange self consciousness and over analysis. But I know that the heart of the issue is truly my friend and her loss. It was relayed to me that she had said she felt that she had lost her best friend and her future. I thought that that was a perfect way to say it so that we could understand. Her future. Of course she feels that way. I know we all know Jeremiah 29:11 and some of us would just love to give her that to make it all better. But the reality is that though God does have a plan and a future for her, the future that she was building is lost. Her future is now completely unknown and unimaginably frightening. There were ten of us in college that stayed pretty close, and I am pretty sure that at least five of us were there to comfort our friend. Nonetheless for her this will last much longer than the events of visitation and funeral. She is barely thirty and already a widow. If you are the praying type, I know she would be blessed by your prayers.

3 comments:

Fittsy said...

"Would I say the wrong thing?..."
I feel so much the same way - about both happy and sad events. I often debate whether I know a person well enough to go visit in the hospital after delivery. And when you genuinely haven't known someone for long, and yet they've been through tragedy, I find it awkward to reach out to them. (B/c I too am self-aware and don't want them to think it strange that I'm reaching out.) However, I've never thought anyone weird for visiting me in the hospital, and having lost my Granddaddy in the last year, I appreciated every note and kind word. So I guess it really is better to reach out and give, even if it is uncomfortable. And I think notes and phone calls can be just as meaningful as attending the funeral, since grief lasts so much longer than a few days.

We'll continue to pray for J and her loss.

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

Abby,
Who are you referring to, if you don't mind me asking. I am sure I knew her and I would like to know. I will be praying for her. So tragic. These situations are so hard. I think most people question their ability to say or do the right thing...until they have been on the other side of grief. And then of course, you really can believe that any gesture is treasured and appreciated. Very, very sad.

Wrights said...

I am so sorry about your friend. I really cannot imagine. I completely feel the same way as you. I am always, always afraid I will say the wrong thing. Is there even a "right" thing to say though? Still, it's so hard to know. I will pray for her.
rebekah

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