December 23, 2018: I’m sitting in the airport waiting for a flight to head home just two days before Christmas. I’ve been gone five days to Virginia to be with my best friend for a funeral.
Her mother’s funeral, just days before Christmas.
My dear friend since third grade had been by her mother’s side both times she fought cancer. She was a warrior fighting alongside her mother as her battle grew harder and harder. Taking her to doctor visits, staying with her at the hospital, making sure she had the care she needed, and as the end grew near making sure she could leave this earth with the peace and dignity she deserved.
This time the fight would end, but certainly not without a long, hard fight from both of them.
Death doesn’t consult a calendar. Death doesn’t check in and make sure it’s a convenient time. It comes in the night while you’re sleeping and takes you home. So it forced my dear friend to lay her mother to rest just days before Christmas.
The day you never want to come, the day you say goodbye to your mom.
This is not the first friend I’ve had to lose a mother. Several of my friends have lost their mothers already. We still seem so young to be losing parents. Eight years ago my best friend from high school lost her mother very unexpectedly. And similar to this, I got on a plane and flew home to be with her. At the time I was living in Maryland when I received the call early one September morning. It was a call I will never forget. I booked the earliest flight I could and made it home to be with her.
A day harder then that was when I had to leave both of them and go home.
Watching your best friends bury their mothers is a pain that haunts you. And I’ve had to watch two of them do it. Knowing they are hurting so badly and there is really nothing you can do to take that hurt away.
Knowing, as the daughters, they will have a lot of responsibility to prepare things just as their mothers would have wanted. They will host the family and friends who come to visit. They will pick the dresses and make the arrangements.
They will do everything for everyone else to help them in their grief, but won’t be able to stop and deal with their own. Then everyone will go home.
“Do you have to go . . . go?”
Just when they needed me the most, I had to get on that plane and fly home, leaving them to deal with the loss and pain without me. That made me so incredibly sad. I felt so much hurt knowing I couldn’t be there to hold them when they needed to cry. I wouldn’t be there to help pack up her clothes, go through her ever-expanding craft room, deal with the business left behind or be there when they just needed a hug or to laugh.
I remember the day my high school BFF buried her mother like it was yesterday. The thing I remember most about both of these funerals was the gut-wrenching pain you feel seeing them hurt so much.
When the service was over and most people had gone home I found her in her childhood bedroom wrapped up in her mother’s shawl when I went to say goodbye.
Laying down and wrapping my arms around her I whispered, “Hey, I gotta go”.
Then she said to me, “You gotta go . . . go?”
“Yeah I gotta go . . . go,” wanting to just die that I couldn’t stay with her when she needed me the most in her entire life.
But I had to go. I had to leave them both and get on a plane to fly home hundreds of miles away not knowing when I’d be back to see them again. Leaving them in someone else’s hands to deal with the aftermath of death. It’s such a helpless feeling when your best friend loses her mother.
I still have my mom, thank God, but I imagine the loss of your mother is something you feel for the rest of your life.
Honestly, as more friends lose their parents, it really makes you think about losing your own. The terrible grief and lose you will feel. The pain and absence that will probably never go away, fade maybe, but never truly go away. As I age, so do they and even though my parents are still relatively young, everyone will leave this earth at some point.
I can’t help but think about my own mother’s mortality and it makes me incredibly sad.
I did almost lose my mother once, many years ago but God saw fit to save her life. He has allowed my brother and me many more years with her. He has allowed her to live an extraordinary life. She has traveled the world, married a wonderful man, and allowed her time to spend with her four grandchildren. But we are all called home one day and she will be, too.
My husband and I have recently moved back home to be closer to friends and family and I’ve really enjoyed being back with my mom. She’s such a big help with the kids and I love those days when she calls and says, “Hey I’m coming over, you wanna have lunch?” I haven’t gotten a phone call like that in over 15 years and I love getting them now. As much as I love being close, I have to admit I find myself slipping back into those old habits of not calling or visiting as often as I should. Our lives become busy with those insignificant things that keep us from the significant people that we love and cherish most.
Tomorrow is never promised to anyone. When your time on earth is done it’s done and those left behind will certainly grieve your absence.
Remember to call, visit and show your love to those you care about because you never know when it will be your time to say goodbye to someone you love dearly. And when you do know those friends will be right there beside you.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog
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