I’ve procrastinated in writing this post because it’s too hard translating the feelings of my heart into words on a page. In the past ten days, my beautiful baby boy was born and my beautiful sister-friend passed away. While I had nine months to prepare for the former, I had only a day to prepare for the latter. While I can marvel at God’s grace and magnificence while peering into the eyes of my son, I cannot help but be angry at God’s will to take my friend before I was ready.
It’s probably true that every time a life comes into our human world, another life is taken away. While logically, that seems fair and right and just, emotionally I want them both to be here. I want to be able to share the joy of my new little one with my old friends. I want to be able to integrate them all into my life. I, I, I. My grief is about my loss, my pain, my emptiness.
So when I go to Facebook and see how it is covered in tributes and memorials to my friend, I wonder what they all mean. Are they for her, who isn’t here to read them? Can she see them from heaven, understand the sincerity that binds them all together? Or are they for the posters, the ones writing on the wall? Are they to make us feel better by showcasing a public expression of love? Should we feel comfort in knowing that so many others also loved her?
Either way, it seems that the most important question is: Did she know how much she was loved before she died? Did those people writing on the wall express their feelings to her before she was taken from this world?
Or are the writings on the wall indicative of the regret felt because we lost our chance?
I can only speak for myself, and I know I feel regret. My anger toward God stems from feeling like I lost my chance. My friend was set to get married later this year, and I just thought I would get to express my love and admiration for her during that special time. The last time I saw her was almost two years ago at a mutual friend’s wedding, and we sang together as we love to do. The time gap between then and now seemed inconsequential when I replied to her email last week asking for my address – she’s the type of friend that you could go years without seeing but yet still be close and pick up right where you left off. She’s the real kind of sister-friend – someone I met during my first days of college and with whom I spent countless hours through our four years. And ten years after graduation, I still felt like I could talk about anything with her.
But it had been a while since I talked to her. I’d like to think that life just got in the way – with school, kids, husbands, etc. – but really, that can’t be it. If one has time for Facebook and Twitter, one has time for “real” friends. So while I say I “lost” my chance, I really didn’t. I gave it up. I let it slip between my fingers.
I gave up my chance to tell a really special person how much I loved them. No Facebook tribute can make up for that. And that’s not God’s fault.
So now, I look in my children’s eyes and vow to never let a day go by that I don’t tell them I love them. I think I’m most likely up to 5 out of the 7 days, but what killed my friend could kill anyone without warning and I never want them to wonder about their love.
And little by little, I’ll be deleting all my “real” friends from Facebook. If we are really friends, let’s communicate in real time, where we can hear each other’s voices, and have a real conversation. I, quite frankly, hate talking on the phone, but with many of my closest friends on the East Coast (and my grad student budget not going very far) I have to suck it up and really connect.
I prayed so hard for a healthy baby boy. Now I pray toward that same God, asking that my dear friend’s spirit is in heaven and for forgiveness for my not cherishing her the way that I should have when she was alive. I ask for the strength and resolve to stay connected, that her passing does not become just a mere memory but a constant call to action. I ask that I might live each day to its fullest, never taking one moment for granted. And that I might teach my children that nothing can replace the love of a friend.