I didn’t intend to let so much time pass between posts, but something happened three weeks ago that stunned me into silence. The world stopped for a bit as I found out one of my best friends had suffered a stroke. Just days after finding this out, we learned she had passed away from complications surrounding it. She leaves behind a husband and two boys (MG & Bea’s age), as well as many other family members and friends, as one does when they die young.
It is a very sobering sadness that has pervaded everything during this holiday season. The parallels in our lives are such that it is hard to imagine her not being able to do the same things with her family that I am currently doing with mine. This one hit close to the bone. I don’t understand why God will take a young mom from this earth in such a quick and tragic way. I don’t understand it at all. But I can rest in the understanding of His faithfulness and trust Him with this one.
Amy was a good friend. And I mean that in the sense that she was loyal, and dear to me, a good example of a friend. I met her almost exactly 5 years ago at a play date. One of our mutual friends started a play group for moms that had children all around the same age and she was one of the faithful attendees every week. Because our eldest children were just about a month apart in age, we were always swapping stories and advice. Together in that group, we watched our kids grow up together: from their first steps, to weaning them off the bottle and pacifier, to sending them off for their first day of Mom’s Morning Out, to getting pregnant with our seconds, and then starting the cycle all over again. The last big milestone we talked each other through was sending our big kids off to kindergarten. I thought we would be doing this until we sent them off to college and beyond. It was natural for us to reach for each other in those big moments.
Now there is a small, silent hole surrounding milestones.
Her name may be familiar to many of you because she was a heavy commenter on my social media pages and my blog as well. I know she was a faithful reader of my blog and always followed up with texts or comments that let me know she was interested in keeping up with my life even though I had moved away from her twice, once an hour north and the second 5 hours south.
It sounds trite to say it, but since I had physically moved away from her, that is where I will miss her the most: in 4 way group texts and her comments on my page. She had a way of complimenting you but making it sound sincere by being self-deprecating. I felt like she would try anything I would recommend and was interested in whatever I was interested in. As a mutual friend put it, she had a way of being a giving friend while also requiring very little in return.
One story that sticks out in my mind is when I saw her husband at the viewing, I was worried he wouldn’t remember me, or at least my name, after a full day of having to talk to so many people and remembering so many names in the midst of so much grief; but he not only remembered me but asked me questions about my move and Sibby. She had kept him updated on my life and it touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting. It was like in that moment, she reached out to me to say, “you were important to me.”
Amy kept us laughing with her stories as she was always getting aggravated with her day to day life in cute and funny ways and it seemed she always had a million things to do and she always needed a vacation. She never tried to come across as perfect or as if she had it all together and I think every mom needs a relatable friend like this to keep them grounded.
The truth, of course, was that she loved her family fiercely and had entrenched herself in their care-taking by doing things like being a room mom and taking her boys to all of their appointments, play dates, and extra curricular activities. She sacrificed so much for her boys. Their life became her life.
I feel, in some way, an obligation to her boys because she shared so much of her life with our little core group. I remember and know so much of their young lives that I’m afraid will be forgotten if I don’t find a way to preserve them, in her honor.
She hated being the center of attention and she especially hated her picture taken (she would sacrifice this though, every year for the beloved family photos). I am so glad I forced her to take a picture with me at my IN going away party even though it turned out to be neither of our best, I will treasure it. In fact, that was the last time I physically saw her alive. I tried to be intentional with all of my friends that had shown up to that little party, much to my embarrassment, and I remember my parting words to her were “you’ve been a good friend to me and I will miss you.”
I think the best way to describe it is I feel like I’ve lost one of my biggest fans. She was always cheering me on and made me feel like my little hobbies of sewing and writing mattered. I know I am not the only one she made feel this way either; it just came naturally to her.
Going back to IN for the funeral didn’t make much sense with the time of year and the snow and ice that came showering down the day of the viewing. But I felt like I had to go, for me AND her. I had spent so much time in denial, and in some ways I am still there; because it is hard to reconcile the thought of seeing your healthy friend alive one day and being told she’s not the next.
I’ve been to few funerals that have been so sad. Everyone was sad. Her sweet boys were almost too much to look at, being so innocent to the tragedy in their lives. I kept stealing glances at them though because I wanted to take it in in case I needed to tell them someday how it went. (I know that sounds weird to say, but I observed that we all seemed to pick up different roles in our mourning. I kept trying to write mine as storyteller)
The oldest one, MG’s age, sat respectfully and followed the directions of the priest. The little one, Bea’s age, had to be reminded not to pick his nose (haha!) and then fell asleep on his dad’s lap midway through. The gravity of seeing her in her casket was especially marked by seeing their little names etched onto it in scrawling Sharpie marker. How does a dad of two little ones carry on after this? I just don’t know.
I think we all sat through that funeral with questions in our hearts. Why, God? For what purpose, God? Will you take care of them, God? Will you redeem this one day? And quickly following these questions, a plea. Come back, Jesus. Soon. Don’t leave us alone down here with our grief and death. We are aching for your return,