It is not too late to care.
It is not too late to call.
It is not too late to be a friend.
It is not too late because it is forever for me.
Last week after my son’s baseball game I turned around to leave and saw another mom. We exchanged pleasantries from afar but she started walking toward me. As she reached me she said,
“I need to give you a hug, I haven’t hugged you since, well, I just need to hug you.”
I said “we’ve talked, haven’t we?”
She replied “well, via Facebook, but that doesn’t count, I haven’t hugged you.”
She opened the proverbial door for me to talk willingly and without reservation. We continued chatting for about 20 minutes talking about the morning, the day Lydia passed, this blog, and just general topics concerning Lydia. I spoke openly and freely about Lydia, how I was feeling, how the boys were and as many other topics we could fit in the 20 plus minutes time. Had you walked by us, we looked like any other moms you’ve seen chatting away complete with smiles, looks of concerns and maybe even laughter.
As you try to imagine a conversation about Lydia I can tell you it was a normal conversation. Just like any other parent to parent conversation would be – discussing the children. As we all know parents get together and sometimes share stories, frustrations, and their lives with each other. We share because we are trying to navigate through the maze of parenthood and need help or we are proud, frustrated or just sharing to share.
Unbelievably, this conversation I mentioned above, it was one of my more normal conversations I’ve had in the last few weeks about Lydia. Hard to believe I know. How could that be your thinking? Aren’t you talking about Lydia a lot since she passed? Why yes, in fact, I love talking about her. Talking about her sometimes grounds me, sometimes it makes me tear up, and sometimes it makes me smile. She is my daughter, my only daughter and I enjoy talking about her. Just like any parent would.
But beyond my close friends odd human behavior prohibits me from feeling like I CAN talk about Lydia lately. The first month after she passed most people were there, they listened they wanted to know what happened, the details, how I, Tom or the boys were doing. People cared, sat down with me, and wanted me to lean on them. I did. I leaned hard. At that point I probably cried more than smiled. Those people, those that sat there – I consider them tough and true in my life. They took a hard job and managed through it like champs. It isn’t an easy task to sit with a crying, grieving friend over their child and not show awkwardness and uneasiness about such a tough topic, such a tragic event.
But, now, now…what I find is this awkwardness with people. Society seems to put this arbitrary date on how long grief is “normal”. When you should be “getting over it” or “moving on with your life” (yes, all sayings we, the grieving hear). I notice now when I start talking about Lydia I get this ‘look’. You know the one….I’m sure you’ve seen it before. People tilt their head to the side, close their lips and give a loose smile as they slowly nod their head while I talk. They don’t talk back. Your picturing it aren’t you? ‘That look.’ If I could put a caption above their head it would read:
“Oh gosh, what do I say? I’m listening but I don’t know what to say so hopefully this look reflects how I’m feeling. But I can’t talk back, what would I say? This look must show I feel bad. Maybe we can talk about something else.”
And I do. I stop talking. There is only so long you can talk to yourself while the other person politely sits and nods and smiles. While their intention is good it is so uncomfortable for ME. Why can’t I just talk about her? I’m not pretending she is still here but she is still my child, why the look, why the non-response, just talk to me normal and let ME TALK ABOUT HER and talk back. I love her, I miss her and talking about her feels good. Why is ME talking about her so awkward for YOU?
Like those that feel uneasy with talking about her there are still those important to us that have quietly disappeared from our lives. Each passing day they are absent resonates with our family as it is hard to forget who should be there but is not. They are choosing to be absent from supporting us. I’ve heard things such as “they are uncomfortable with death” or “they had a loved one pass and it’s hard on them” or “maybe, they just don’t know how to deal with it.” I’m sure these are all valid reasons but I honestly don’t understand it. I know it hurts. I get it. I was there right after Lydia died – attending another child’s memorial after I had lost my own. In fact, I know it hurts like hell, but putting my OWN feelings aside I felt being there for a friend was more important than how I felt at the time. In fact, being there for someone else we found support in each other.
I put the shoe on the other foot and knowing they needed people there, I made that drive. I drove that beautiful Saturday morning just weeks after Lydia’s passing crying most of the way until I arrived. When I came close I took a break, gathered myself together and realized I could do this. That is what friends and family are for. To be there. To love. To hold. To cry. To share. Be. There. So, why is this so hard for some? Why does it become about others and their own emotions instead of being there to support the people that need it most? Why can’t we support each other?
I know what you’re thinking “gosh, if I am there but don’t know what to say then I should stay away but she’s saying staying away hurts…how can I do this?” Well, you can do this by being YOU. Be who you always were. Be that friend. Be that neighbor. Be that person you were before Lydia died. Be that person to us before this awful tragedy happened. Listen, talk, share and bite the bullet of how YOU feel about the awkwardness with death, tears and discussions. Be that friend that shared with me before she died – the one who talked, cried, laughed, and smiled about her. Be that mom at baseball who walked up to me, hugged me and just talked.
All I’m saying is this: it is not too late to be there for someone. Say sorry, I didn’t get it. Say you care and want to help get me through this. Be there. This loss will be the rest of our lives, not just on May 11th and the tough weeks, months and years after, it will be forever. We will need true people in our lives forever…it is never too late to just be who you once were in our lives. If you were there before and couldn’t on May 11th and the days after it is not too late. Step up – be that friend.
“Nothing you say
Will remind me of my grief
So share the memories
Speak their names
Ask me about them
Do everything you can
To remind me that
You have not forgotten”