3.05.2018

grief

{written Saturday, March 3rd}



I lost a best friend today. She passed away, completely unexpectedly. Out of the blue. Not only did I lose a best friend, but I lost a best friend and her unborn child. My grief is nothing compared to the grief of her husband and family.

I don't know if anyone has ever been more loyal to me than Colleen has. I've had many friends come and go, but she has been a fixture in my life for nearly two decades. I met her when she was starting 5th grade, and I was starting 7th. Our Sunday School teacher introduced us in the church foyer. "Colleen wants to be a singer someday," she told me. 6 years later, I passed my character shoes onto her when I graduated and she took my spot in show choir.

We rode the bus together to school every day. We sat together in choir class the two years we were in high school at the same time. We got in trouble nearly every day for laughing until we cried. We had weekly phone dates in college. We knew everything about each other's boyfriends. Every break we had from school, we'd spend together getting coffee or lunch. We always talked about the day we would live near each other again, all the fun things we'd do. We were in each other's weddings. The week before mine, she flew to North Carolina to help me prep. We took a trip to the beach when we should've been doing wedding things, because she had yet to see the ocean. We prank called people the night before my wedding. They're some of my favorite memories with her, some of my favorite memories of my life.



After college, we lived two and a half hours apart. It wasn't unbearable, but it wasn't ideal. Every few months we'd make a point to get together. She would always bring me coffee, or we'd meet for ice cream. We talked every single day. We talked about serious things from marriage expectations to the food we were craving. I knew she would share my outrage at every little annoyance, and we all need a friend like that. "I have a headache and I'm tired and everything is the worst," one of us would say. "It totally is. You should probably get some ice cream and go back to bed," the other would joke. We both knew we were insanely grateful for our lives, but we'd egg each other on in our misery until we cheered up. But she was always quick to encourage me, always making sure I was doing alright. She would question me until we got to the root of what was really upsetting me, and she would always give me a game plan to help me fix it. If one of us was having a bad day, we would send each other the clip of Oscar talking in a southern accent from The Office, because it never failed to make us laugh hysterically. We shared recipes, she always knew the best coffee shops and restaurants, and she never came over without bringing presents or food. I've never known anyone as loyal and generous and caring. She was always the first to pray for me, the first to check on me.




Less than a month ago, her husband got a job close by, and they moved into a house not 20 minutes away. We were THRILLED. We haven't lived close to each other in 10 years. We had already planned double dates and coffee dates, and she was about to get a membership to my gym so we could work out together. She came over and sat with me in the evenings while James was on a work trip, because she knew I was nervous, and she brought me my favorite Chinese food. I went shopping with her and helped her pick out decorations for her new house. Only a few days ago, I helped her decide which curtains to hang in her daughter's nursery. Exactly one week ago, she was sitting in this room, babysitting Gracie with her husband so James and I could go see a movie.

Her baby shower is on my calendar. I was planning to start knitting a baby blanket for her this week. Her house warming party is supposed to be next weekend. She had already planned a night out for my birthday in a couple weeks. The night before she died, she texted me to say she was exactly four months from her due date. It was the last conversation we had. We've been dreaming of our girls growing up together, friends, just like we did. I texted her today at 12:17. I had been meaning to text her all morning that I woke up with a cold and started my period all on the same morning. I knew she would share my outrage at this great injustice, and we'd laugh about it. Instead, she had passed away at 12:16. I just hadn't known it yet. It makes me ill to think what was happening when I was lamenting my stupid cold. But I know she would've laughed about it with me.



She was the very definition of a friend who shows up. She's talked me off the ledge more times than I can count. She's come over to sit on my couch when I needed someone. She gathered everyone in the room with her to pray for me one night recently when I was scared. She offered so many times to drive hours to my house when I was having a hard time. I never let her do it, but I know she would've in a heartbeat. She offered her family to me when mine moved away. Everyone in her life received a handwritten card in the mail on their birthday. She was always, though unintentionally, convicting me to be a better friend. Her generosity and selflessness has completely changed the way I view friendship, and I have been striving to be the kind of friend she was. Just ask my husband how many times I've been in awe of her friendship to me. We didn't always see eye to eye on politics or religion, but it never came between us. We loved each other dearly no matter what.

It's funny the memories that suddenly pop up when someone is gone. When I was engaged, she joked about standing up during the reception, announcing that she needed to make a toast, and then actually pulling out a toaster and standing there awkwardly while toasting a piece of toast. We laughed hysterically over that for a long time. In college, we would watch those crazy TLC shows and text them in detail to each other late at night. She was always throwing a party because she wanted to celebrate everything in life, even the change of seasons. She always had a beautiful new dress, a different color in her hair, and killer makeup. "I want taco bell and then mac n cheese and then probably some Jeni's and definitely some chicken nuggets" is a common 8pm text to each other. We would dissect our wild food cravings in great detail. These are silly little things, but it's the inane details like this that make up a friendship, that make up a life.



We've texted each other almost every day for 10 years. Every morning, there was a 50/50 chance I'd wake up to a 6am text from her, telling me about her crazy pregnancy dream, or I'd tell her I dreamed about that person from high school again, and we would start the day off laughing together. So many times I've reached for my phone to tell her how I've been feeling, only to realize it's all because she's gone. I find myself constantly wanting to tell her little tidbits about my day, realizing I can't. I could tell her the most serious things to the most trivial, and she never once judged me, but she also had no problem telling me when I needed to get over myself. Continuing through life not having her as my sounding board is going to be the adjustment of a lifetime.

I've lost a friend before. I've lost grandparents. But losing someone so near and dear to me, someone so young to a complete freak thing? It's traumatizing. But I am so thankful for the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. It has been so palpable. I'm thankful for the hope of heaven. I'm thankful that this is not the end of the story. Life feels so fragile right now. So scary. It's hitting me so hard that we are not promised tomorrow. I'm drained and unable to put into words what I want to plead with you, so I'll say this: run to Jesus. Know that your future is safe with Him.

For anyone who prays, I beg you to pray for her family. Her husband especially. He lost everything in a matter of seconds.

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'" Lamentations 3:21-24

34 comments:

  1. What an enormous loss. I am so, so sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Michelle. I have no words for you. I cannot fathom the pain you’re feeling. All I can do is to say a prayer for you, for your friend and her family, and continue to pray that you feel God’s embrace around you all through this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, Michelle. My heart has been broken for you since I saw your post yesterday afternoon. I can't even imagine the grief you are navigating right now. Reading this made me feel like I knew Colleen, too. I can tell how wonderful she was and what an impact she had on your life. You are in my thoughts. <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my goodness... My heart is just breaking for you & her family. I cant even imagine. I had my closest friend pass away from cancer & that was horrible enough - we knew the end of how it was going to turn out - but to have a surprise freak moment to take away a life - that had so much potential & possibility ahead? I just cant imagine. I'm praying for you & the family in these next few days of the funeral & the next months head where the loss feels even more hollow & empty. Oh sweet lady... sorry doesnt say it enough - but I am truly sorry for your loss

    ReplyDelete
  5. That was a beautiful description of your friend and your friendship. I pray for peace through your grief for all of you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you, Michelle. My heart hurts for you. I’ll be praying. ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great tribute to a lovely lady. I’m so sorry, dear friend. I have been thinking about all involved non stop and praying.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Praying for the family and for you. It’s hard to even know what to say at times like this, but thankful for the peace of Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Michelle,
    I don't know you in real life and I didn't know her, but this post brought me to tears. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your friend. What a gift for her, to have a friend who appreciated so much about her and loved her so well.
    She sounds like she was an amazing person.
    The hurt must be immense. I'm sending up prayers for you and her family and other friends today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for our kind words, Suzy!

      Delete
  10. Oh, Michelle, I am so so sorry!! Sending prayers for everyone involved.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Michelle, I am so sorry for your loss. Colleen sounds absolutely amazing, and just reading about her life is making me look at the ways in which I could be a better friend to others. You all will most definitely be in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Jesus lives, and because of Him, so does Colleen.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful, beautiful friend and person. I wish I could have known her, too, but now I almost feel like I did. You and your mutual friends and family and her family are all in my prayers, nonstop since this happened. It’s so hard losing someone so special at any point in life, but especially so young. I am so thankful alongside you that we have Heaven to look forward to, and that knowledge to comfort us when loved ones leave. Love you!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This made me cry and gave me chills. It sounds like she was truly one of a kind.

    ReplyDelete
  15. michelle, i've been thinking about you all day since i read this earlier. i am so sorry for your loss. i am praying for you and her husband and everyone else she impacted.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm so heartbroken for you, and for her husband. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh Michelle, I am so so sorry. I don’t even know what to say. I’m definitely praying for everyone who knew and loved Colleen. What a terrible loss. I’m so sorry :(

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh Michelle tears came to my eyes reading that. My heart aches for you, for the pain and grief you’re dealing with. Just know I am praying for you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am so, so sorry. This is devastating. Death is evil. I can't imagine the pain of this loss for all of you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh wow. I can't imagine losing a best friend. That is so so hard. I'm so sorry. Praying for her family as they go through this tragic loss of such a beautiful soul.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Praying for you, your family, and her family, Michelle. I can't even imagine. My heart's breaking for you guys.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm so sorry. I've been praying for you and her family. ❤

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've been praying for you and her family since I found out and will keep on 💕

    ReplyDelete
  24. My heart is so broken for you. You have been (and will continue to be) constantly in my prayers, friend. I'm praying for her husband as well <3

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me! If your email is linked to your account, I'll respond to you via email. If not, I'll respond to you right here.