Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Death, Thy Sting is Right Here

There's a lot about life that isn't fair, but sometimes that fact slaps you in the face with a vengeance. Last night as I sat with my husband, listening to a concert and watching our sons enjoy the music, my friend Maria sat in a funeral home a few blocks away, beside the casket of her husband, aged 47. Our sons are best friends; we have, up till now, shared similar lives.

Going to see Maria and her sons last night took every ounce of willpower I had, because I knew I couldn't simply file past with a sympathetic expression as I murmured banal platitudes. I know because my father, like Maria's husband, died ten years before he should have seen me graduate...fifteen years before he should have given me away at the altar of my hometown church...twenty-one years before he should have held the child who bears his name...forty years before he should have been watching the World Series with three young men who'll never know what it feels like to have a grandfather.

When you've walked in someone's shoes, it's impossible to lie to them. And so, as I hugged my friend last night, I didn't tell her it will be all right--because it won't be. I told her the only things I know to be true: "This is so wrong," and "I am here whenever you need me." And as I watched her sons standing awkwardly in the onslaught of well-wishers--I said nothing at all. But in my heart, I gathered them in my arms and wept with them over the moments that will now never happen in their lives.

Their lives will go on. They will cope; they will heal. But they will never, ever be the same. This I know.