“Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly.” ~ Jodi Picoult
During what seems like a lifetime ago, I met a lady named Lynette in a bar.
We became the best of friends. Together, with a small group of other like-minded crazy women, our neighborhood bar christened us the “Twisted Sisters.”
We did everything together—celebrated the good times, had each other’s backs in the difficult times, and held each other up in the unbearable times.
Over the years, we found ourselves growing apart, not by choice but by circumstance and distance. But we kept in touch as best we could through late-night texts and long Sunday afternoon phone calls.
So, when the news came on a recent Friday afternoon, I was stunned. Lynette had passed away the night before.
I had just spoken to her that afternoon as she lay in a hospital bed suffering from Covid complications. She said she was feeling stronger and hoped to be out in a couple of days. I told her how much she was loved and missed, and I promised I would see her soon.
I won’t be able to keep that promise.
As I write this, I am still in the first stage of grief: denial. Death has somehow lost its significance in these pandemic times. It has become a commonplace part of everyday life. Whether it’s the world collectively grieving the loss of millions of lives or a family having to say their goodbyes from outside a hospital window, as caring nurses relay the messages to the loved one taking their last breath, death has just become routine.
Logically, I understand that she is gone, but my heart won’t let her go. I keep going back to late-night conversations and the plans we had to create a tequila farm in West Texas. During those talks, we solved all the world’s problems and discussed what we wanted to be when we grew up, although we were both way past the growing up stage of our lives.
The whole world has received a crash course in death and grieving in the last two years. We have grieved for the lives of people we have never met, the loss of our way of life, and like with Lynette, the loss of those very dear to us.
We also lost many of the rituals that would help us heal. Saying goodbye is important. Sharing the sadness and the memories with family and community is important. Being able to hug the people who share in your sorrow is important.
I hope, as we make our way back to “normal,” that death isn’t something we just accept with complacency. I hope we can find our way back to celebrating the lives of those who unexpectedly leave us through the rituals we create to help us heal.
I look forward to returning to that neighborhood bar soon, hugging the remaining Twisted Sisters and toasting Lynette with a shot of tequila and a round of darts. Until then, I will still pick up my phone to send her a text, catching my breath as I remember she isn’t there.