Confusion and Grief

I didn’t know her well.  But when I heard that an acquaintance of mine had a heart attack a few weeks ago, I was still stunned.  A peer, someone I’d volunteered with at the kids’ school, who’d attended our PTO meetings, who lived around the corner from me,  was Just Like Me had had a heart attack.   It was shocking; even in our early forties, my girlfriends and I feel pretty invincible.  Several of us still don’t have wills drawn up (myself included).  Those illnesses, those grown up trappings are for Old People.  Not people our age.  Not people like me.

The whispers got louder as the days passed.  Apparently G had lapsed into (or was put into a medically induced) coma after the heart attack, and had not come out of it.  The middle school PTO president quietly updated those of us on the board that it had been long, too long, for her to still be unconscious.  That there were glimmers of reactions to this test or that, slight changes in breathing when her children came to visit the hospital, but nothing concrete.  Nothing certain.  Nothing hopeful.

Subtle messages started being passed along via Facebook; friends including photos of themselves and G in their profile pictures.  Prayers asked for.  Prayers said.  But still the days passed, with no improvement.  I wondered aloud to friends, what was appropriate?  I wasn’t close friends with this woman; hardly knew her, really.  Still, I felt like I should be delivering a casserole or something.  That need, always, to feel like there is something that can be done, even where is nothing really to do.  It would be inappropriate to be one of those people who gloms onto tragedy like a life raft, needing that self validation of being useful, helpful.  Instead, I prayed.  Quietly, to myself, and with a few close friends.

Yesterday, the news came.  G had passed away.

And again, it struck me.  Even though it’s not my loss, my friend.  But still, the sadness is there, just the same.  How terrible, how awful.  Sympathy for her husband, her teenage children.  It’s the kind of thing you see in movies, the widower with the two kids.  But you never think it is real, that it could be real.  That it could happen to someone you know, who lives around the corner from you, whose voice you can still hear in your head because it was kind of distinctive, nasally and even a little unnerving.

But it does.  It happens.  Death happens, all of the time.  To good people and bad, to young and old, to deserving and not. It is always stunning, shocking, horrible, and awful.  But sometimes, just sometimes, it is even more so.




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