I found out today that someone I know died suddenly just after midnight this morning. She had just been diagnosed with an advanced, aggressive form of leukemia just maybe a month or so before. I was told it was an unexpected blood clot in her lung that killed her; she was due to go home the next day to spend Christmas with her family and await a transplant (bone marrow, I would suspect) next month.
So many things are swirling around my mind. For once, there’s the gratitude that it’s not the tragic story of someone dying a tragic alcoholic death. There’s the gentle satisfaction in knowing it wasn’t some sort of devious trick of the disease that did someone in. But there’s the quiet questions of wondering why her, why now? Why someone who always seemed so smart and so …
We weren’t that close. I’d say we were acquaintances more than friends. And there was that block that sometimes occurs between women when you don’t know each other well — at least from my part. I think I always thought she didn’t like me. But, I can say this with all confidence. The times we were brought together over a weekend and shared bits and pieces of ourselves and had real conversations? Well, I always remember thinking — what a kind person, what a funny girl. What a generous spirit, how this person is just like me. I don’t ever remember feeling that she had an agenda or that she was looking to be anything other than herself.
So, I can only imagine the grief and the despair of the people who truly knew her. Who were her intimates and her confidantes. Who knew what made her laugh and were there to hear her cry. Who walked with her through her ups and downs and were prepared to join her on the next difficult part of life’s journey. I can also imagine that they were preparing somewhere for the day when they might no longer have her, but that they were mostly filled with hope and with confidence that there would be a solution that would bring things around for her — because it would be the right thing to do for someone who was living such a good life; who was such a positive influence on the people around her.
These are the things which escape me. Which elude my ability to completely comprehend them. I’m not God. It’s all well and good that I shouldn’t be and that I shouldn’t understand, but I think it’s in human nature to want to. God gave us intellect and so it’s in our very being to want to know WHY. Why do things happen like this? Why her? Why now? In this particular case, I’d like to find great comfort in the fact that it was quick and that she can be free from a body that was failing her. That her soul is now completely at one with its creator and whatever else lies beyond our current perception of reality. That maybe if she had gone home or gotten a transplant, it just would have been too much for her body to handle. And God spared her of that. That’s what I personally like to think. I don’t know if it’s right, but I just like to hope that it is, so it can make sense to me.
I always feel sad for people who lose loved ones around Christmas. I feel like it inadvertently puts their loss on public display. Every year, there is an emotional parade of songs and decorations and shopping sprees and commercials and shouting CHRISTMAS. And no one needs to be reminded of when they lost someone — they don’t ever forget. I don’t forget the date that I lost my friend, Mike. So, I think it’s just got to be an added element of overtones that might be overwhelming at first. I might be inclined to want to shove Christmas up someone’s ass if all I was really thinking about was how much I missed someone who wasn’t coming back. That would already happen if you lost someone in the middle of August, but there wouldn’t be a two month long consumer reminder about it. You’d have your own touchstones to deal with instead.
So. I know you are missed dearly, N. I know you’re watching down over us all as we figure it out, struggle to mire through the grief together. I know you’ll be truly home for Christmas, if only in our dreams …