Composed. Graceful. Strong.
Words I’d use to describe my friend, my sorority sister, on the day she buries her nearly 5 month old daughter.
Buries. Her daughter. 5 months old.
The words sting even as I write them.
It’s days like today when I desperately wished I’d never learned empathy. When I wished I couldn’t genuinely feel the ache of my friend’s empty arms as pictures of her beautiful daughter flashed across the big screens. When I wished I couldn’t feel that terrible longing she must feel for “just one more day.”
The lump in my throat and the first swell of tears that spilled from my eyes was almost too much to bear as the service began and my friend and her husband took what must have felt like a mile long walk from the back of the church to the front, where they would take their front row seats for the surreal occasion of memorializing the tiny blue eyed girl they’d brought into this world not quite 5 months earlier.
It is in this moment that I am immediately in awe of how strong she appears.
Though I try not to put myself there even in a hypothetical world, I can’t help but wonder what that must feel like. Would I be able to make that walk? Would I turn around and run back out as if avoiding it could make it all go away?
For everyone in attendance, it’s a terribly sad place to be for an afternoon. For a few hours.
For her, it is the beginning of a lifetime of sadness, longing and wondering about what might have been. It won’t just go away when the sun goes down. Life won’t just “go on” for her.
We all used to stay up late on the Theta Floor, talking, (drinking) & stealing composite pictures from fraternity houses. The biggest worry we had back then was whether or not we’d make it to class the next day with a hangover.
But today I stood amongst 5 of those good friends with whom I pledged 15 years ago, each of us a little older, hopefully a little wiser, with a little more life under our belts, hugging our friend, offering useless words of consolation to someone who just lost her only child.
I wanted so badly to get home to see my own babies so I could scoop them up and revel in the love of the 6 warm little arms that wrap tightly around our necks. And yet, I couldn’t get past the guilt I felt knowing that she too would give anything to do the same thing again. Even if just for one more time.
Instead, with family and friends by her side, she is left with nothing but photos, an empty crib, some blankets and most importantly, memories. Memories of a little girl who did a lot of living in a few short months.
Amidst the sadness of a life lost too soon, I truly believe that with a little faith and a lot of strength, they will smile again. And I am reminded of a quote I once read in poetry book I owned years ago...
"The pain we feel when someone leaves our lives is in direct proportion to the joy they brought into it."
Life is short. Such a cliche. But for them, it really was.
Be grateful for the moments you have. Take lots of pictures. Live in the now. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Smile. Laugh often. Love your babies and tell them so. For you just never know when "goodnight" will be the last.
In memory, Brynja Ann
June 8, 2010 - November 1, 2010
Some friends are for a lifetime...Even on the worst occasions, we come together and stick together. Nice to see you all..sorry it wasn't on better circumstances..