As we got home, I grabbed my phone and looked for the text I hoped wouldn’t come, but in my heart knew would: my dear friend had tragically lost a young and healthy family member - father, husband, son, brother-in-law, son-in-law, friend. Seemingly perfect health. 47. Cardiac arrest. He’d been holding on in the hospital for days but the damage was done. The doctors had let the family know.
I knelt on the floor - the only position that somehow made sense - and I began to cry. I sobbed for my friend, his family, those kids - as I do again while writing this. The kids.
As I buckled toward the ground, my fists and knees balancing my body - a crooked and convulsing all-fours - I felt my daughter’s soft, light body drape gently across my back, her arm, tiny, wrapping, seeming to encompass me. This child I’d just come home with who was about to be banished to “some time alone” for her behavior, her wild emotions, her bickering, her temper, this child who hasn’t sat still for 6 years, this child so emotional herself, stood there, still, holding me. Her head now resting upon my upper back, her warmth comforting me. Her heart sustaining me.
As my cries slowed and I sat more upright, kneeling, she slid from my back down my left side and grabbed my hand with her left while her right caressed my upper arm. She didn’t say a word. No one was watching her. My sobs picked back up for another round - she squeezed my hand tighter.
She stayed there with me through all of my sobs and deep breaths and more sobs and breaths. Quietly. Still. Holding me.
And this is why I was sobbing. And this is why I write. And this is why being a parent has made me stronger and more vulnerable than anything I’ve ever done. A crushing sweetness.
I write my blog as a sort of record that I was here, a breadcrumb of thoughts, and sometimes even a direct note to my children. I have to admit that I write, at times, for fear that this same thing could happen to me. What will my children know of me if something were to happen? What can I leave that lasts longer than memory? What wisdom could still be here if I were not? What love? How do I leave their world better no matter when I leave the world?
And there, in this moment, in the arms of this sweet little animal, mustering a presence and a stillness never seen before - for the moment - I know I’ve communicated something far greater than words.
And, again, this is why I cry. I know my friend’s lost loved one lives on with and within his children. Beyond words. The loss and pain are horrifying and yet somehow they will carry his light and love, holding it tightly, caressing it gently, comforting, with a crushing sweetness.