Within two weeks of each other, two of my closest friends lost their parents. It was a hectic time, full of tears, anticipation, and craziness. We kept the floral shops in business during that time. There were laughs and tears and wine and coffee. I can’t remember the number of times I picked up my phone and texted I’m here if you need me.
But then time passed. Funerals ended, family went home, thank you notes were sent. Closets were cleaned out, and everyone went back to work. I turned my focus back to the day to day that life as a parent brings – running my kids from place to place, catching up on emails, and wondering what to cook for dinner. But in the back of my mind, I’ve realized that my check-in messages fell to the wayside, and I wasn’t being the friend I was just a short time ago.
I can’t help but admire the pure strength that my friends have shown in the face of loss. The perseverance they’ve demonstrated is second to none. But I know that time does not always heal. I can only imagine what is going on deep down in their heart as each day and week and month goes by.
So here, my friends, is my open letter to you:
I’m here if you need me.
It’s only been months since you lost your parent. The person you have known longest in life. The one who was there on your very first day. And you were there on their very last. I can’t imagine the hurt and the pain that you feel. You have shown nothing but strength through this time, but now that you’ve returned to your new normal, I know that there are going to be times when you feel alone in your grief.
I’m still here if you need me.
You have been there for me, for better or for worse, in good times and bad (we’re practically married!). I’ve leaned on you in more ways than I can count. But now it’s your turn. Your turn to lean on me when you realize that things aren’t normal any longer, when you admit that there’s still pain. I can’t make it better, but I promise to listen, I promise to laugh, and I promise to cry right along with you. You don’t have to be strong, you are safe with me.
I’m here when you need me.
Things will get better. The sadness will fade to fond memories but I know there will still be days. Your parent is not forgotten, and I want to hear stories and memories with each holiday and birthday that comes and goes and even just when the moment moves you. With every pink sunset, every butterfly that floats by, and every tasty hotdish you eat, I will remember right alongside you.
I’m still here.