I haven’t lost a lot of people in my life. To be clear in this case I mean I haven’t lost a lot of people to death. Now that I think about it, I also haven’t lost a lot of people wandering into the woods away from me. Two times blessed I call that. I am so blessed that I don’t know how to write the word die without heart palpitations and knocking on wood three times. Don’t worry; we are good (I even did twice on the pipes, just in case.) I have lost one close friend that was about my age. She was a year older. I point that out only because she liked to be more mature than me and that year definitely was a source of (mock) contention. She had 4 children at the time she passed.
This friend died 3 years ago. We were just dipping our toes into 30’s territory. I had recently added my second child to my family and she had established her family with four children. She was my been there, done that friend. The purpose of this story is not to focus on our relationship or feelings related to her passing. I have hashed that in some other writings, and though I could go on forever it’s not where my heart is at this moment.
I met up with her oldest child the other night. He was and is an amazing young man and it made me question what I should be doing for her children. On the one hand, I would be there in a heartbeat if they wanted me there, and yet on another hand, I feel like I don’t want to force a relationship on them. When she first passed I was very concerned about putting the burden on them to heal some of my hurt. I missed her so much and I fantasized about calling them up and having them over and crying with them about their mom. Then take them to the movies, like their mom and I used to do when we were younger.
I thought better of it. I do have some self reflection that allows me to see that it’s not healthy to use them as my crutch. So I backed away to a safer distance. Occasionally I would try to let them know I was there, but I again recognized my neediness and kept a respectful distance. I convinced myself that they didn’t need to have some “old” lady cramping their style.
Seeing her son and speaking to him made me question myself. He made a comment that I reminded him of his mother. My heart rose and fell in a ½ second. Was I denying him some memories of his mother by not being more available? Was I not really protecting them like I had imagined, but hurting them by not making more of an effort.
I left with a heavy heart. I talked to my friend on the way home (yeah, the deceased one.) I don’t care if that makes me crazy. I haven’t wandered off into the woods yet, so I must be relatively ok. She didn’t answer me directly, but I did hear an old “Smashing Pumpkins” song come across the radio that I hadn’t heard in at least 6 years. The song was one she had introduced me to at a sleepover at my house. We were watching MTV late that night (back when MTV stood for “Music TV”-said in my best Grandma voice.) I had never listened to alternative music in my life and I wasn’t quite sure about this stuff. I’m still not sure it’s my cup of tea, but you bet I sang the crap out of that Smashing Pumpkins song with tears streaming. That’s what friends do, even when one of them doesn’t get to stick around.
I don’t know what the right thing is for me to do for my friend’s kids. I know that she would be so proud of them. I know that the people around them tell them so. Does it matter if it comes from my lips any more than if it came from someone else’s? It’s not fair that they lost their mom. I wish they didn’t. I wish I didn’t lose my friend. I had hoped by the end of writing this I would have an epiphany about what the right thing is. I hope next year I’m out of the woods and can tell you what I did. I hope I can be certain that what I did was the right thing.