Thursday, September 11, 2014

grief, loss, acceptance and love.

i spent two weeks on vacation this summer with my two little men. me. a single mama, thought it would be a good idea to embark on an ambitious itinerary that involved multiple states, plane flights, stays at friends and families houses, long car rides, and a hotel stay. did i mention i have 4 & 6 year old boys? yep. crazy town. on top of that, it was an emotionally charged trip in so many ways. one of the legs of the trip was to see my friends megan's family.  

a little over two years ago, i lost my childhood friend to cancer. we grew up the best of buddies and although, as we grew older, our lives took us in different directions and locations, we stayed close. it's funny how friends that have been a part of your life for so long transition, without you even realizing into family. that was my megs. a common love of theater is what brought us together as kids, and even though we both changed and grew in so many different ways, we loved one another the way sisters would and loved each other through the best and the worst of times. 

at the same time my friend was losing her battle with melanoma, i had lost my marriage. it was an unbearable time of life for me. the loss of it all was, at times, suffocating. i remember the calls from her husband and mom the day we lost her like a movie that you have watched so many times, you can recite it word-for-word. just thinking of that night causes me to catch my breath. it plays, at times, in my head on a if it will somehow all feel real at some point. she is gone. 

the trip was an opportunity for me to fulfill my promise to my friend that our children would know each other as they grew, but also a quest for me to find some closure and peace in her passing..... it had all happened so suddenly and in the midst of my own grief and processing of my own marriage failing. although I flew to be there for the funeral, I never had been back in their home. i went to the funeral and then tucked away that grief in a corner of my mind for a day when I was ready. when I could give it the attention and respect that it deserved. 

it has been said that the difference between what you want or need and what you fear is sometimes the width of an eyelash. i wanted to go back to her home. i wanted to spend time with her wonderful legacy of a family she had left....but it was scary. it was real. 

at first it was hard. everything seemed just as she had left it. it was as if she was going to walk in the door at any moment and the whole thing was just one awful bad dream. but it was was so real. she was gone. she wasn't coming back. i sought out ways to help. i wanted to support my friend by being there for her husband and kids. despite my own intense grief, i tried to be present for each moment. it was hard being there, occupying my dead best friends life. experiencing things that she should be there experiencing. i was surprised by the guilt I felt. that I was alive and she was not to be able to experience all of these moments. there were so many wonderful memories that i will treasure forever: experiences like going to the pool together, introducing the kids to movies her and i had watched together as kids, water fights, lip syncing with her sweet daughter, building forts, painting nails, painting rocks to bring to her gravesite and her sweet little girl picking out matching outfits for us to wear.

i left that trip with a sense of calm. these unbelievably amazing little kiddos are such a perfect reflection of her and although megs is gone, she is living on through them in so many ways. the people that love them and her are keeping her alive through stories and pictures and memory-making moments, like the few i was able to share with them. i know that even though megan isn't able to be psysically able to be there, she has an amazing front row seat to all the action from heaven. i look forward to many more memory-making moments ahead.

in a two week vacation with the littles, i learned a lot. i grew as a person. i accepted realities and have moved through them. i bit off a lot when i decided to take on a trip of this magnitude solo....but i pushed past my fear and i did it! was it perfect? nope. were there some bumps in the road? certainly. but we did it. and *that* is a huge accomplishment....a major turning point, in my book of life. 

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