This year has handed over two very tragic losses so far. And I can’t help but reflect on this.
These are not losses that happened TO me. Not my immediate family no. They are losses for people whom I count as immediate family.
One was a tragically sudden loss of life for someone with whom I had a passing relationship, but to whose family I am very, very close. A beloved adult nephew of my dearest friends.
I had been welcomed into his extended family years ago and while Jacob and I had some memorable conversations over bbq hot dogs and Christmas cookies over the years, he was beloved to me mostly because he was so beloved to his family. We didn’t text. We didn’t see each other outside their family gatherings at which I was a guest. I’m not even sure we were Facebook friends.
I remember the text the morning they learned of his death. I stared at the words in complete disbelief. I literally could not comprehend the sentence I was reading. And then my heart opened up. I felt for his aunts and uncles, for his beautiful girlfriend of so many years. For his twin. For his other brother and his little cousins. His little cousins who didn’t know deaths name before this. For his grandparents.
Now, to say my heart broke for Jacob is not really right. When my brother died, and my mom and then my dad: when they died my heart broke. It ripped down the centre and the hole left behind will never be repaired. Shattered. Broken. Shards and rubble.
No, when I heard of Jacobs death, my heart filled with a weight. It filled with a weight that settled in and made a home. It filled with as much grief as I could bear for all those beloved friends.
And that grief weighs heavy. It’s in my heart like sludge. It moves around sometimes, reminding me that it’s there. I think that is what it means to “feel the loss”.
I feel the weight of the grief that I took on to relieve some of the weight from the others. Hoping that by taking on a little of that burden it might relieve them just enough to be able to carry on.
It’s happening again this week. My dear and most beloved friend Patricia has a daughter in very serious condition. The prognosis is grim. Her beloved and only daughter rests on life supporting tubes and machines. We pray for her recovery but it will not be a full one. Time is precious. People are gathering around Patricia and Christie. Going to them. Circling them, as we do.
I wish so much I could there and help. It’s a long way from this corner of Africa to that far corner of America. A long, long way. Too long to manage this week.
But today, as I read an update on Courtney’s condition, the tears started coming and haven’t managed to stop.
And I felt the weight pouring into my heart. I felt the weight of the grief I’m taking on in an effort to provide some relief for Patricia.
Because maybe I don’t need to nearby to bear that weight. Maybe I just need to open up my heart, make some more room and hold that space for their grief.
I take that grief out and turn it around, check on it. I think of Jacob and his family. I hope I am holding enough to make it bearable for them. It’s such a small burden compared to the vastness of the loss. But it’s all we can do isn’t it? Just take on a bit. Each of us. Take our share of grief and hope those who are left broken will be able to bear the rest.
I am holding my heart wide open now for Courtney. I keep an image of her freckles, her laugh, her silly ways, her blonde hair. I keep hold of Patricia’s hand in my mind. Holding her up. Taking on a bit of the burden so she can go on.
You have my prayers. You have space here, to put your extra grief. I’m here and I love you all.