'I'm not going to lie. I'm struggling today worse than I have in a while...'
These are the words I sent to a friend yesterday.
I could feel the heaviness surrounding me all day, nearly suffocating me, and I knew what was inevitably coming. I was picking up my youngest from daycare, my daughter with me in the passenger seat. I could feel her eyes on me during much of the drive. She was assessing me; searching my face and studying my body language. She knew what was coming too. She knows my tells and the signs sometimes before I do.
I fought hard to make it back home without letting a single tear slide onto my cheek. I put the car in park and asked her if she could take her brother in for ice cream while I made a phone call. She didn't hesitate. She also didn't give away the fact she knew there was no call I had to make.
Once they were out of sight I let it out. I opened the floodgate to the pain and longing for my little boy. I let myself feel it all. In the midst of my breakdown I sent that text to a friend.
Grasping the steering wheel and resting my head on it my entire body shook in rhythm with each emerging sob. Drowning in my grief my car door suddenly opened and there stood the friend I had messaged. I nearly fell into her arms. As she holds me like a small child I choke out the words, 'I just miss him so much'. She cries with me, squeezing me tight. She lets me continue until I have nothing left. I finally looked at her and said, 'I would not have survived the last 3 years without you.' And I wouldn't have.
When my son died she would get up every single day at 5:00am in the dark and freezing Iowa winter to walk with me because I needed fresh air. Sometimes as we walked I was silent letting her fill the quiet space with hilarious and extremely inappropriate stories (because she is hilarious and very inappropriate). Sometimes I talked and she just listened.
I've called her at 10:00pm to make snow angels in the middle of the street because it was something my soul needed. She was at my door in five minutes - no questions asked.
It has been 3.5 years since his death and she still shows up with dinner and dirty jokes when she knows I am having an extra tough day. She not only loves me hard and takes care of me but she does the same for my family.
She talks about my son as much as I do. She even talks to him (and they apparently have some pretty deep conversations). She doesn't tiptoe around the fact he is dead and she acknowledges him in everything we do. And I love her for all of this.
She is loud, crazy, funny, loves hard and is there even when you are sitting alone in the parked car in your driveway.
I wish she would teach a class on how to support someone you love who has lost a child. She does everything a loss parent needs and wants. She has it figured out. She is the bridge; bringing together two very different worlds with grace, humor and love.
I hope and pray every parent who has lost a child finds a friend like her.
Love you A.