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Today, my mom lost one of her best friends. Today the news came. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Traumatically. Ripping a hole in the heart of her world and the world of all who knew and loved her.

Today I realized so many things. Things I already know but always lose sight of. Things like, nothing is ever guaranteed. Things like, you never know when it will be your last text . . . your last hug . . . your last power walk . . . your last everything with a person who is so deeply connected to your heart and soul that you haven’t gotten through a day without their smile or their voice, for years that are counted by decades.

If we’re lucky in life, we all have our person. And today, my mom’s person passed away. I watch her grieve from a distance as living miles away from my family forces me to do. And that breaks me. Knowing that the crack of loss in her heart runs so deep and wide that it feels like it can never be put back together. 

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I think about the incredible bond my mom shared with her friend. A deep-rooted connection that has grown over years of time, and most recently blossomed in these later stages of life. Branches on a tree of life that have shared the journey of raising children, relished in the joys of being grandparents, built strong foundations of marriagein sickness and in health. Strong women caring for everyone around them time and again, lifting each other up through the quicksands of hardship their footsteps have stepped through time and again. 

They shared a passion for baking brownies. Walking for endless miles that never seemed to be enough. Talking on the phone twice a day even though they lived less than a mile apart and just spent hours together at the gym. Not enough steps. Not enough conversation. Not enough time.

I have seen my mom lose close friends over the years. I’ve sat by her side, holding her hand, as she watched disease shatter their dreams of ever growing old. Blurring out hope of seeing their grandkids graduate, celebrating that 50-year anniversary with the love of their life.

But this time was different. This time, when the news came, it came suddenly, unexpectedly, traumatically. Without the chance for goodbyes. Without the hope of a tomorrow that was anticipated to come. And it’s devastating.

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 Watching my mom lose her person carves an emptiness in me that I can only think to describe as the branches of the trees in the heart of winter. Looking for signs of warmth and light. For the first blossoms of hope that seem to take forever to show back up.

But they do. And they will for her again. In time . . . time that will take too long, seem like too much to bear, flood her heart with a loneliness that sadly I have lived through myself and wish I didn’t understand.

But for now, watching my mom lose her person is devastating. And so when I can, I will hold her hand and offer my shoulder for her to lean on. And sit by her side while she waits for that first blossom of light to return.

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Amy Keyes

Amy Keyes is a middle school teacher and freelance writer in St. Paul. When she's not cheering too loudly while spectating at her teenagers' sports, she's running, working out, binge watching recommended series on tv, or hanging out with her dog.

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