Today was the first day back to work for a friend whose father recently died. We’ve known each other for more than twenty years, and I’d met her dad a couple of times. Two weeks ago she stopped by my cube to tell me he was sick and they were going to go to the doctor. Two weeks ago next Saturday he died from stage 4 cancer.
This morning she stopped by my cube again to thank me for going to the funeral. And as conversations go at times like this we talked a bit about her dad, what I remembered about him, where she was in the process of sorting out the estate, how things were going. Then she looked at me and said “Of course this was a lot different than what you went through.” I thought about that for a bit. She’d barely known her dad was ill and four days after the diagnosis he was gone. Four days. I just didn’t think that was any easier than us finding out dad and mom were gone instantly. She was still in shock. She hadn’t had enough time to deal with it, with her extended family, to talk to her dad, let alone sort out her own feelings. When I told her that four days was as much a shock as instant death her eyes filled up with tears. She said it really hadn’t sunk in yet. I nodded that I understood, and told her we could get together after work any time. But inside my head I was thinking..’except on Tuesdays when I have band, and Saturdays when Katie goes to school, and…
…and then I shut that voice in my head down. Because haven’t I been in her shoes? Both parents gone, a little lost, a lot hurting. Didn’t I have friends that came from across the state to just sit with me and listen to my story? Didn’t I have a friend who called me every night during the week I was in Alabama after Mom died? She called me every single night from California to see how I was, when all I could do was sob hysterically into the phone in response. Don’t I still have friends who will listen to the story when I need to tell it, even though they’ve all heard it before? And can’t I extend that same love and friendship to this new orphan? Of course I can.
She was one of the friends that held my hand and listened eight years ago when our world came crashing down. Now her world is upside down. And whatever night she needs to talk I’ll be there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a band night or an obedience morning. Sometime down the road her loss is going to hit her; once the paperwork is under control, the house is cleaned out, the siblings leave for their distant homes the loss is going to hit. And that’s when it will be time to pass on the support I received. Because that’s what friends are for.
Thanks Mom and Dad, for bringing us up with enough sensitivity to recognize hurt when we see it…and for teaching us that last lesson when you had to leave eight years ago – that nothing is as important as the people in your life. But boy change is hard.
So…lesson learned. I sure wish you could come back now.