Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dear You,



When we were freshmen in college, your mother died after a long struggle with cancer. I believe she might have been sick off and on for most of your growing up years, and since you were an only child and a particularly sensitive and intelligent girl, I imagine that you matured and grew stronger and wiser than the rest of us at a far earlier age. When I think back on that year when your mother died, I shrink a bit, inside, and my heart breaks. You were only eighteen years old when you lost your mother. I can remember getting the key to your tiny single room in the dorm and tidying it up with another friend, anticipating your arrival back at school after your mother's funeral. I knew nothing of such loss. Your mother would never see you graduate from college, find your first job, marry your dear husband and give birth to your own daughter. She would not be with you, either, when your father died too early last year and left you truly an only child. She would not know that you have grown into an amazing and generous woman, a beautiful mother and faithful wife. She would not know you as a steadfast friend whose heart knows no boundaries.

You reached across the miles and years and sent me a ticket to come east and join you and our best friends from college for a weekend trip that proved to be the best vacation I've had in at least a decade. A couple of days ago, we exchanged some emails. I wrote I'm having a bit of a blue period because Sophie turns 18 tomorrow. It's such a milestone and then it's not. I feel every one of the eighteen years and wonder how many more there will be. We're having a big birthday bash for her on the beach on Sunday late afternoon, so that'll be fun, but to tell you the truth I feel a little lonely in my grief/loss/etc. Hard to explain but perhaps easy to imagine.

It will soon be your father's birthday and the first anniversary of his death. You replied, Oh, I know . . . I've followed your blog all week and my heart aches and sings for Sophie (and you) at the same time.  I have a little something special in mind to send Sophie.  I thought of it earlier in the week but haven't been able to follow through.  Just a little something.  To bring you comfort, as well.  I understand exactly the lonely bit.  You hate to bring it up and yet you want everyone to know and remember and understand and empathize.  So as a result I tend to hole up alone so I don't have to wish people understood why I'm seeming a bit removed or overly chatty.  You get it, I know.

I read your words sitting in my car in a parking lot of a grocery store. They took my breath away and made me cry, two cliches that certainly don't do justice to the enormous gratitude I felt in reading them. Part of living an extraordinary life -- and I imagine that most of us live extraordinary lives -- is acknowledging and accepting hardship, grief and loss, shaping and draping them over your bones and tissues. And when my bones are heavy and tissues bleed, what sustains me are words and the connections they conjure. Your words arrived at the exact right moment and were arranged as a perfect witness, simple and graceful.

Thank you, dear you. I am blessed by your friendship and can only hope to return the love back to you in equal measure.

Love,
Elizabeth

P.S. The sandalwood bracelet with green amethyst stones is beautiful. Sandalwood is said to bring clear perception to the wearer, and the green amethyst, inner peace. When I see it on Sophie's small wrist, I will be reminded, again, of your witness and grace.

18 comments:

  1. I really love this post.

    Simply beautiful, all of it.

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  2. I feel a little bit like I'm eavesdropping...but yes, it IS a beautiful post. I'm sure there are a lot of complicated feelings tied up with Sophie's 18th birthday, and any important anniversary.

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  3. I am in awe. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.

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  4. I am trying to be more like your friend is...caring and compassionate....and say and do the right thing at the right time. Happy Birthday to Sophie!

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  5. Blimey, you took my breath away, too. And I'm not even sitting in a car park. That was a beautiful and touching story as only you can tell it. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  6. your friend is the friend we all want to be and all wish we had. and your appreciation of her is heartwarming. so blessed, both of you, to have each other.

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  7. Sometimes it seems that the world really is a beautiful place. Music despite everything. Your writing here is so tender. Of course you would feel lonely. I'm glad she was there to say you're not alone.

    [Oops. That was me in a guise I didn't know I wore :)]

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  8. Good grief. Melusine = another me.

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    Replies
    1. Vesuvius! Melusine! I adore your mystery --

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  9. What a blessed friendship, and an enduring one. You deserve it, Elizabeth - you are such a thoughtful, faithful and generous friend yourself - but as we know, life doesn't always offer what we "deserve." I am thankful that you and this beautiful friend have, and understand, each other. What grace, across the miles.

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  10. How fortunate you are to have such a long and meaningful friendship. You both look like so fresh faced and beautiful.

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  11. what a special friend, through time and circumstances. through time and space and this blog, I feel that I'm too your friend, and a friend of your family. Baci.

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  12. This is so very touching, it brought tears to my eyes but not so much of sadness but of the beauty of it.

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  13. This is beautiful. We all wish for a connection like you have described. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. beautiful friendship, beautiful post. your bravery in sharing such intimate details brings out the humanity in all who read your words. you give us a gift beyond measure.

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  15. So beautiful, this post, the friendship, your love and strength.
    I echo the words anonymous wrote, I cried too, but not so much sadness or empathy, as truth and beauty, which can always bring me to my knees. Thank you so much for sharing yours. It would be lovely to see a photo of Sophie wearing her bracelet. xxoo

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  16. None of us really ever does know exactly what another one is going through, even if we have known each other forever. No matter how close our hearts. But that doesn't stop us from reaching out, from doing that which we think may be the right thing, the sweet thing. The good thing.
    And when we do that for each other, it is the best thing.
    It is the essence of loving, I think. The best part of being human.

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  17. There are a few glorious moments in our lives where we reap what we've sown and forgotten about (or not realized the magnitude of at the time). I suspect that this friendship is an enduring reminder of your own spirit of generosity and thoughtful reflection and I hope it continues for a long time to come.

    Love.

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