The White Queen told Alice that she, as a girl, used to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
One of the impossible things I have to believe is that my best friend is dead.
It just seems impossible that she is not here - not in Alabama, or Georgia, or Louisiana, or any of the other places she's ever been. She's always been away but ever available on the phone, or a text.
She was the first person I told I was pregnant this time, even before my husband. I was so sure I had not followed the pregnancy test directions correctly, even though I don't miss a period unless I am knocked up. I just don't. And there are only so many people you can send a picture of a pee-splattered pregnancy test to, right?
It seems impossible she won't be here - somewhere - when the baby is born. This baby that she told me she prayed for everyday. I mean, it has to be impossible that she died barely a month after she went into the hospital. Who does that, in 2013? That's just crazy talk. Even when it was cancer, okay - you beat cancer. You go to chemo, and buy head scarves, and it's horrible and yet, you fight it and it backs up and off. It doesn't descend like a swarm of killer bees and wipe out your best friend before you even get your breath back. I mean, in Beaches, Hillary did die, but she died BEAUTIFULLY on the beach, with a fabulous hat on her head.
The other day I wrote that maybe I would just pretend she took a vow of silence and retreated to a mountaintop monastery. But that doesn't really sound like her, but then again - neither does dying.
The other day, I told someone - my faith does help. It does. As Rich Mullins said - oh, Rich, who also went way too soon - "I did not make it, no it is making me." I may not be talking to Jesus very much these days, but He understands. There is deep comfort in trusting that death is not the end. But Corinthians, and the hymn - they are wrong, asking 'O death, where is thy sting?" Because death DOES sting. Those killer bees again. My heart feels paralyzed from its sting. And whatever my heart feels, is only a fraction of the pain of her husband, children, parents.
Most of all, I don't know why I get to be here, making peanut butter sandwiches for my child. My child needs me no more or no less than Carrie's girls. How is it at all possible that she's not here? I can rejoice that she didn't have to suffer another day, but I can also be very sure that this whole idea was really terrible and I will never, ever be okay with it. I feel certain we could have come up with an alternate plan, really.
I am a total beginner at grief. This year, we've lost my grandfather, and Beaux's grandmother. I always knew I was lucky, so far. Losing a grandparent is in an entirely different realm, it goes without saying. I am grateful for their long lives, for the release from bodies that were breaking down. I step into their houses and walk around the empty spot in the chair, the missing who-ness. But I don't go down the list of what they'll never do, because they got to be there, here, for their children, for their spouses, for their own parents. I thought I could count on the seemingly steady number of years in front of us.
I know that grief is different for everyone. And yet I keep waking up into the realization, the echoes of a bell ringing in my ears. This is forever. This does not change. This is not an extended vacation with limited cell phone service, y'all. This just keeps on being real and hard and true. There is no Lazarus moment, not here on this side, anyway. This will be a very long Good Friday. And I know that Jesus knew how true and hard and real death is, because even He wept over Lazarus.
The door between us is closed. But I will slip notes under the door, as best I can.
I don't write this because I want one more person to tell me they are so sorry - even though I appreciate every kind word and thought. I do want to hear your stories, though, because I've now seen death up close and I want to know what helped you. I know, there's just nothing to say when a 35-year-old woman dies in such a short time. There are no words for that. But I'll keep trying to find them, even if whatever I find, I burn up into ashes and let the wind blow them away.