There is a certain grief that cannot be understood unless you experience it. I have experienced all kinds of grief in my years on this earth. Each has its own special feeling. As a child we moved a lot and I lost places and people who had been a part of me. In high school a hurricane changed life for my whole community. In college, I lost the love of my life and thought I would never recover from it as he moved on to better things. The grief of death came later in life when I lost my parents 6 weeks apart the year I turned 40.
Today, I am experiencing another kind of grief I didn’t know could hurt so badly. I grew up an only child (I had a half-brother but he never lived with us). Growing up like this, you tend to be different than other kids because you hang with grown-ups all the time and you tend to attach yourself to friends more strongly than others with siblings might. Your friends become “brothers and sisters” with whom you share your life dreams, your hurts, and joys.
I have lots of people in my life with whom I have great relationships but there have been only a very small handful who have been those with whom I share the deepest parts of my soul. These friendships are different and carry with them a grief I didn’t understand.
When someone is dying, there is an outcry for prayer for the family…and this is certainly needed. Losing a family member is traumatic. I know how the prayers help to comfort and to give peace in these terrible times. I also join with others to pray for the family of a lost one.
Recently, however, I stood next to the coffin of one of the closest friends I have ever had. She took with her to her grave confidences no one else knew. She shared my deep feelings, hurts and listened patiently to my confessions of insecurity and despair. I in turned listened to her and wept with her over struggles she had. She was closer than any sister I could have ever had. (at least I think so, since I never had one!)
This grief has affected me in ways I never thought losing “just a friend” would.
- Sunday, I was tempted to text her when my Saints were losing… she would have texted me back saying, “Breathe!” and I would. Sunday, I got no such text even after they won and I found myself grieving. No one understood my silly obsession with the Saints like she did. She had the same obsession for her Rebels!!
- I spoke at her funeral and wanted so much for her to tell me that I could do it…she understood how insecure I am and chided me for it regularly…no one else will do that because no one else understands how little confidence I have. For this I grieve.
- I grieve over the loss of sharing those deep things…about our lives, our families, and most importantly, our faith. She would listen to me share a scripture that had spurred an excitement I had to tell and she would answer with an excitement of her own about what God said to her just that day…often with the same scripture. I will miss our conversations about God’s Word and what God was doing in our lives!
- I grieve over the loss of laughing together until our sides hurt…mostly over things we had done or said…we were both blondes and those times came often! We also would just understand something when we saw it and would burst into spontaneous laughter! Laughter was so important in our lives…I will miss that.
God understood my feeling out of place the day of her funeral because He sent a few people who came to me to say they were praying for me in MY loss. I cannot tell you how those words washed over me like a balm. They understood the connection of friendship and they ministered to me in ways they will never understand.
I wonder if I will ever have anyone again like this in my life. Probably not. Just like her family will never have another mother, sister or wife. There is a hole left when someone like this leaves your life. Grief comes, and all of us will eventually return to life, but it will never quite be the same.
This writing is not to complain or to want sympathy but to rejoice in the fact that I am grieving…because in this grief, it means that I had this kind of relationship this side of heaven. I rejoice in the fact that there was someone who made my life better just by being a part of it. This is a rare blessing and I do not take it lightly. Proverbs says, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I believe I had a friend that stuck closer than a sister. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to experience this in my life.
If you have a friend like this, cherish that relationship…spend time with them even if you are too busy. Pick up the phone, call, and catch up. It is a gift from God!!
If you do not have a friend like this, cultivate one. It will take time, trust and transparency. You might have been hurt before by someone…don’t let that stop you. Find ONE. If you when you die you have ONE person like I described, you will have been rich beyond measure.
So, to friendship! I will see you again, sweet friend, and we will have an early breakfast and talk through the lunch crowd again--- if Jesus lets us! Until then, I miss you.