What do we say when our hearts break from hearing of tragic news? This week has been full of it. Everywhere I turn there is another death, another heinous act of violence, another scary diagnosis, and another broken heart just trying to live their life.
Relationships are hard. They are hard and tricky and sometimes oh so messy. But when you hear of these tragedies none of that messy stuff matters. You put down your arms of battle and open your arms for embracing one another. Life can be pretty mundane sometimes - but there are other days that just steal your breath away. Isn't it funny how until our walls are broken down do we stop building them up? It takes life changing news to stop us from sitting behind our wall and casting out our piercing arrows. You know the ones that are meant to hurt really bad when they hit? The ugly messy words that you shouldn't say, you know you shouldn't say, but you do it anyways because you're so fed up with dealing with life that you let it all come spilling out.
What will our last words be?
I remember the last conversation I had with a friend. It was move out day from college for the summer. I had waited all day for him to come to his room and move his stuff out. It started to look hopeless and I had this overwhelming sense of panic that I wouldn't see him. Just as I was about to leave he came in. There was 15 minutes for him to move his stuff out of his dorm and he hadn't even packed yet. (Laughing at this now because I realize just how alike we really were). Still he stopped to make time for me and to say goodbye. I was overcome by grief and tears just inconsolably crying. As I sat in front of him and I bawled my eyes out and I said some things that I'll never forget. Ever. I hugged him tight not wanting to let go and I told him that I'm going to miss him. I told him how much I cared about him and how I felt like I was never going to see him again. He called me crazy. He hugged me and told me it was going to be all alright. He told me of course we would see each other again and not to worry. As I drove away I watched him from my rearview mirror. I could have stayed there all day refusing to move, but I knew I had to leave. It doesn't make sense to stand in a place not moving when you have no legit reason why you shouldn't... When all you have is a feeling. I forced myself to get in my car. I forced myself to put on my seatbelt and shift my car in drive. I let myself look back in the rearview mirror of my red Honda civic and then I forced myself to keep going almost certain I'd never see him again.
A few weeks later I spent hours standing in the pouring rain waiting to say goodbye to him again. Only this time I couldn't see his face. I wouldn't want to even if I could they told me. I couldn't hug him and he most certainly couldn't talk back to me from the walls of his casket. I couldn't make eye contact with his best friend because Lord knows I didn't know what to say.
Just a few months before I had broken down one night - I'm not normally this girl who walks around with this heavy weight of doom around her. But for whatever reason I was so overcome by this sense that something bad was about to happen. It could be because former classmates had died in a car accident the week before. But no matter the reason there was a random onslaught of tears one night when it was just the two of us. When I say random, I mean random. I remember calling for him. I remember just wanting him there by my side. One of my friends found him and told him and he came to see me. The next thing I remember I was a heaping mess. I can still remember him saying "What's wrong? What happened?" He was ready to fight the guy who hurt me. He was ready to console my broken heart. But he wasn't expecting what I said next. Through tears I told him that I felt like something bad was going to happen to him and I didn't want him to die. Yup. Hard swallow. I begged him to wear his seatbelt, not to drink and drive. I pleaded with him to not drive fast. I told him I felt like something bad was going to happen to him. I can still remember the look in his eyes as he promised me nothing was going to happen, he wasn't going anywhere.
You can probably guess how he died.
I wish this story was something that I made up. I know it probably sounds that way. The whole thing is so surreal. When I look back on all of it, it feels like something out of a movie. Almost as if the whole thing was staged. I haven't talked about these events with many people. But I want to share it because I know I was given an opportunity to share my heart with him unfiltered. God prepared me for his loss and allowed me to tell him how much he meant to me. That's the good I want us all to receive out of his death.
I'm so grateful that for whatever reason that pushed me to, that I was given the opportunity to express how much I cared. Even though they were desperate pleas for his life, I still told him how much he meant to me. He knew and I knew that we both cared for each other as more than friends. Neither of us knew what would happen down the road for our friendship but we both had this deep love for each other that I can't explain to you. It wasn't being in love. It was different. We talked and our conversations would end up in deep and meaningful places. Places no other friend had ever gone with me. He shared parts of his heart and it was beautiful. To this day I can't say any person has opened up to me so easily before. We talked about death and life and how much we loved our friends and family. We never had to climb over each others walls to get to the point, our walls were down and open to give and receive back the kind of communication that I wish we all could have with each other.
I won't forget how we cared for each other. How we never spoke harshly to one another even though I can still tell you an incident I regret where I know I hurt him. He hurt me too. We didn't know better, we were just college kids trying to figure out how to get by. Yet - we shared this connection that I know will go beyond the grave. I try to make all my relationships meaningful. Maybe I take it too far sometimes. I may be too sappy, use too many heart emoticons or tell people I love them too easily. But you know what? At the end I want to know that I showed my love and appreciation for each and every person I come in contact with.
That's what we do with this sad news. We support one another through all these hardships. We don't forget to tell people how much they mean to us. We hug our friends goodbye before we walk out the door. We thank God that He gets us from point A to point B safely and that we get to have another day on this earth with each other. That's all we can do. Be loving and kind and then thankful for what we have.
Sometimes life becomes so repetitive that we forget that all it takes is a split second. We never know when life will change but there's one thing we can guarantee.... Life will change. Let's use these hard times as a catalyst to draw closer to our friends, family and Jesus.
One bright morning when this life is over
I know, I'll see your face.
[in loving memory, jeff monica 5.29.03, thank you for being a light during such a dark time, and thank you that the light still burns bright after all these years without you.]