Monday, August 2, 2010

Lesson Learned, Cara: Love, Hope and Loss

Here's our first contest entry, written by Cara Stone. Don't forget the deadline is August 7th - keep sending us your essays!

"The kind of hugs you give during times of grief are those when you can’t tell which person is the one holding the other up. They are the kind where you are holding so tightly that one could go limp with sorrow and neither would fall. They are the kind where you are trying to convey that, somehow, the world will go on and that you can rely on your friends to be there and understand that your heart is broken and they won’t try to fix it but, rather, just be there with you as you relearn how to navigate the world.”

I wrote those words three days after he died. Let me back up. Over the July 4th weekend a close friend of mine from college got married. Less than twelve hours later one of her closest friends, an usher at her wedding, died unexpectedly at the age of thirty. He left behind a wife, a three-month-old daughter, a father, and friends who loved him like a brother.

I got the call at 1:57 a.m. from the bride, Beth, saying something had happened to Jeremy; she didn’t know the extent of it all but she wanted to let someone else in the wedding party know where she was and what little she knew, and that she’d call back when she knew more. The next call came at 2:09 a.m. Beth managed to get out three words before she couldn’t speak anymore. Before her voice became overwhelmed with grief for the friend she considered a brother. “Jeremy didn’t make it...” she said. The “it” trailed away into sobs. She managed to find a few more words, getting them out through the cries and gasps for air; the message was something along the lines that she didn’t know what to do and she needed someone who could think straight to come to the hospital right away.

I have never been in this kind of situation, so close to the actual moment of death. My heart ached, and continues to ache, for Jeremy’s wife, for Beth and her partner on their wedding night...I couldn’t imagine what they were going through...what they continue to go through.

And yet, I had a different perspective. Though I was greatly saddened by the loss of Jeremy, more of the grief and sadness I felt was that for those who have lost their shared future with Jeremy. I’m not married, but I can’t imagine losing my (someday) husband and never again seeing his smile, the one I would expect to see on the pillow next to me every morning for the rest of my lose the plans we might make to go visit friends next lose the conversations about how to raise our children... to lose the times when the pile of dishes in the sink would be too much and I might wash and he might lose the idea of growing old lose the shared lose the times when we might just sit and be, together...

That night I told myself I never wanted to fall in love so I would never have to face the kind of pain Jeremy’s wife was feeling, the despair and grief. Even now I keep going back and forth...But I have faith that there is so much more to love than just the now. That, somehow, the memory of the love that was shared along with the love and support of friends and family would help me continue, to face each day as it comes. Nothing would be “better;” nothing would be “alright.” It would be a different life than I or anyone else could have that I might not want to face. But it would still have love. As long as there is at least a little bit of love I could still have hope. Though it scares me, I won’t (and can’t) give up on love.

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