Fragile World

This week, a dear friend had a hole ripped in her heart when she had to say a final good-bye to her Mama.

Too early. Too young. Too fast.

She still needs her Mama. Her story wasn’t supposed to go this way. The world doesn’t need another motherless daughter.

The un-politically correct words play on repeat in my mind. .  .It’s not fair. Not fair. Not fair. 

Naive, I know. Too simple, I know. I’ve lived enough life to know that all stories don’t end like fairy tales, and, sometimes, the most beautiful stories are intertwined with the most horrific tragedies.

I understand that just as the sun shines on us all, so also does the rain pour.

As I’ve walked along side my friend this week, it has been impossible not to relive, remember, and retrace those early days after learning that my own mom was gone.

Almost seven years have passed but the feelings are still so close.

I’ve thought a lot this week about the girl who stood behind the counter at the CVS store in my hometown. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was high in the sky and my sister and I stood in the store holding pictures of my Mom to be printed for her calling hours. I remember standing across the counter from the young woman, who had no idea what the pictures were for, and wondering how she could just be standing there, in a pharmacy, as if the entire world hadn’t shifted. I only half listened to her as she pointed us to a machine just a few feet away and marveled at the fact that she was talking about such a ridiculous thing as a printer when, it seemed to me, the world had changed forever. I stood next to my younger sister, who is far more mature than me, and was amazed at her ability to maintain composure because all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs MY MOM JUST DIED. . . HOW ARE YOU WORKING??? DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? MY MOM IS GONE!?

I nearly had to bite my tongue to keep from making a spectacle.

Still today, I remember what it felt like to walk out of CVS and see cars driving by just like nothing had happened at all.
My mom just died and people were filling their gas tanks.
I will never have a mom again and people were getting cones from Dairy Queen.
My world had stopped and, for everyone else, life went on.

I remember feeling like it was a cruel joke.
Like a dream. A very bad dream.

I know that the world doesn’t stop when someone experiences tragedy. (Though, out of respect, sometimes I wish it could.) When the world stops for one, it doesn’t stop for all. That would be supreme naivete.

Still, this week I was reminded of how fragile the world, and people really are. I was reminded that we never really know what is going on in another person’s life. This week I was reminded that my best day is often someone else’s worst.  This week, I felt the weight of what it is to be human and how while I may be able to do nothing else, I can be gentle with the fragile human soul.

I never knew emptiness could weigh so much, she said.  I can barely hold it.  So I sat beside her & reached for her hand & we held it together.” -Brian Andreas, Story People