On the death of a friend

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Henry David Thoreau said, “on the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.”

A dear friend of mine died this past October, and my life will never be the same, not just because of her death, but because of her life. Elizabeth lived life intentionally. She loved people well. She had a contagious laugh. She had the most amazing smile.  And a wink from Elizabeth sealed a moment in time between the two of you. She was amazing, and I can’t really explain how much I miss her.

I have been told that grief is the process of incorporating a loss into your life, and I guess I believe that to be true. I just don’t really know what that means until it happens. I can go days without thinking about her. Then I hear a song on the radio or read something funny, and it hits me like a wall.

I think the process of grieving the death of someone you love is lifelong. It’s not something you “get over” or are able to “move on” from. You keep going, but you don’t move on. Most of the time, I still don’t really believe she’s gone. It’s hard to imagine that I will never hear her laugh or hug her neck again.

I grieve her loss for myself, and I grieve it for those who were even closer to her than I was- her husband, her mom and dad, her sisters, her childhood friends. In the 17 years that she was my friend, she changed me and moved me and challenged me and made me laugh.  She cried with me and took care of me when I was sick.

I didn’t see her as often as I would have liked in the last few years, and I grieve the loss of the time we could have had together if I had lived closer or if I had visited more often. I regret that I wasn’t able to spend more time with her. I regret that I wasn’t there for her final months, weeks, and days. I cry often for the loss of a such beautiful life.

Mostly though, I want to do as Thoreau suggests and “fulfill the promise of her life, in my own, to the world.” For me, that means loving my family, letting the little things go, and laughing a lot. My life will never be the same because Elizabeth was in it.