I have been struggling for months now to find my words because I thought I’d shared all that I could share to help with the process of loss. Last night I found them again. Life is all about timing. Painful yes. But a much needed lesson in allowing others to hurt authentically.
We made my best friend cry last night. Her dead sister and I. Unashamedly. Unabashedly. Uncontrollably.
It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot from someone whose job it is to bring you to tears. As I watched her little face crumble into her chest I shoved my tongue hard into the roof of my mouth to distract from the heat of my own tears that were threatening to pour over my cheeks. I found myself looking upward and to the left to avoid being pulled into her discomfort. I was working and as such that demands a different part of me that cannot be taken off balance.
In one fell swoop her deceased sister had moved the conversation from laughter to profound discomfort. I was completely unprepared although I should know this energy well enough by now to have been ready for just about anything. Over this past year since her death she has provoked me to issue ridiculous and often off color comments via text to her older sibling.
“Tell her she forgot to shave her belly button” among other things that should likely never be shared publicly. My friend wouldn’t care what I shared here but that’s really not the purpose of my thoughts today.
I had no idea that she was in such profound pain. She is so forthcoming about her journey through loss in her own blogs that I missed it somehow? Maybe because we are too close to recognize it? Maybe because she is a lot like myself, she counsels the grief of others? Maybe because I hold her up as my example of how to be strong.
I hold all five feet of her as my idea of strength. In fact, if I am honest about this, I can well recall the moment that her text arrived to me on the morning of her sisters tragic death. “She’s gone. My sister is gone” and the first thought that swept over me was….
“You got this girl. You got this. If anyone can handle this, its you”
I never told her that but I think she knew that’s what I was expecting.
So she did. She handled it. She swept through what had to happen in the days to follow. She got up, she brushed her teeth, she put on her eyeliner and she took charge. Exactly what I expected is exactly what she did. I never saw her break. Not even as she stood in front of the colorful flowers and the urn at the funeral home and recited her own version of her sisters life and how she might expect others to handle her death. And my friend handled it the way she thought her sister might expect.
She handled it the way I might expect. The way her mom might expect. The way her friends might expect. Her clients might expect.
She simply handled it.
And then last night as her sisters words about sex on the dining room table faded off into the inevitable giggles, she turned that table and took me to the truth. The room suddenly emptied of those that were physically present as I watched this little sister pull her broken older sister into her arms and rock her like a child.
And that’s not what I was expecting. And I don’t think that’s what my five foot Wonder Woman was expecting either as her eyes darted quickly and then somehow slid down her face like wet paint and splashed into her broken heart.
In fact just this morning she recounted to me that it had all caught her off guard. Not that I needed that confirmation because it was written all over her brown eyes as she struggled to hide the fact that she knew…that I knew….
That she had been handling it because she was expected to handle it.
I knew the look.
And I will expect that many of you do too.
It caught me off guard too. A scene swelling in my mind of my caped crusader curled up into a ball that made her no bigger than the pillows on her couch. With her sister in her awful polyester navy pants and bright red blouse wrapped tightly around her trying to console her pain. Not what I thought I would see. Not what my friend thought I would see either.
But something I needed to see. And something she needed to share with someone other than the little bear that was made of her sisters clothing. The little bear that was hidden under her chest as she curled up like her throw pillow.
I couldn’t find my words this past several months because I was out of words you expected me to say. I was out of what might feel comfortable. Comfortable for you to hear and more importantly comfortable for me to say.
I’d like to thank Kerri. The little sister that died because she couldn’t hit a possum. Because her heart was too big to cause pain. Because she talked about bleaching her backside. And sex on the kitchen table.
And because she showed me what real strength looks like. It looks like a throw pillow wet with tears wrapped around a small bear. A wee Wonder Woman that breaks apart in the early hours and then unravels herself to her full five feet as the sun comes up. Brushes her teeth. Puts on her eyeliner. And handles it the way she’s expected to.
The way I do. The way you do. The way all that feel so deeply do. Every single day.
And now I am left wondering why something so incredibly beautiful and courageous is something we don’t talk about.
Because it opens our own discomforts? Our own what’s “not expected” of us?
Lets change that. Because my intention going forward is a whole lot of….
“Well I didn’t expect that”
Of course not. Because you are doing what’s expected. In grieving, in losses, in love.
Show me. Show others. Show them the truth. Because they might be hiding their own.
Show us what we don’t expect you to do. And then we can heal together.
Sending love to those that are curled up and crying before you stand up and do what’s expected. I got ya. xo