It is difficult for our friends – who have not lost or suffered greatly – to understand and enter into the pain of those of us who are grieving. What can they do to lighten our darkness? What can they say to give hope? How can they unlock the cold devastation that has quarantined us?
My best best friend and I have a unique and unusual friendship. We have literally known each other our entire lives. We’ve never known life without each other. Born two months apart, our parents members of the same church, growing up the first five years in the same county, remaining pen pals half a world apart for eight years, living together part of high school, meeting our spouses online and marrying six months apart qualifies us as the most bonded best friends ever. In our opinion 😉 We’re quite obviously sisters from another mother since we’re a foot apart in height, she’s the natural beauty and I’m plain jane.
But when Heidi died I didn’t hear from her. My phone rang incessantly and my mother confiscated it for my protection; I asked often if Rachel had called, if she’d texted, if she’d called any others of my family. No, she hadn’t. I asked, “Why? I need her.” My mom’s wise response, “In tragedies like this, most don’t know what to do first or when it’s appropriate to reach out. She is in shock, too.”
Rachel and I were expecting together. The week before Heidi’s birth she and I had a fun-filled prego weekend complete with favorite movies, fatty proteins, and afternoon naps. We were so excited to be moms together, too- she with a boy and me with a girl. We were convinced they’d be best friends just like us. Or get married, ha!
A week after Heidi’s sudden passing, Rachel called. She was quiet and wanted to know what she could do. We talked for a few hours. I didn’t talk much about Heidi being gone, because I couldn’t process it well myself. Rachel was still pregnant, so what we did still have in common then was birth. I told her every detail of Heidi’s birth, the funny parts and the gritty parts, which kept us laughing and connecting. Rachel eventually came to visit and it was then that we talked about the trauma of Heidi’s death and we cried together.
Rach told me she’d always be there for me. No matter what. So I promised myself I’d be there for her, too. I could hardly handle my hurt heart around my other friends and their babies, but I was determined to pray for, fall in love with, and enter into the life of her child. When he was born, I took him into my heart as if he were my own. I rejoiced with my friend for her safe delivery, her healthy child, her beautiful family. I wanted that, too, but I let go of my loss and chose to enter into her gain.
Two years later it was Heidi’s birthday and Rach let me know she was praying for us that week. It was a tough week. If you’ve never lost a child, you won’t understand it even if you try. The overwhelming sadness from missing that child and wishing the years of separation away are intense. My husband and I spent that week together, focusing on our second daughter and where we are investing for eternity and the ways God has blessed us since Heidi came into our world. This year we didn’t have the emotional capacity to commemorate her second birthday in a significant way.
Since my husband had a work trip, Rachel let me know that she’d like to visit. It was less than a week after Heidi’s birthday and I knew that with my husband gone I’d be pensive, so the offer from my best friend met the need of the moment.
It was the perfect moms&babies weekend. The children played beautifully, and Logan even planted a kiss on TLP while splashing in the tub. We made some special memories together, and I could not have been more grateful. These two babies are six months apart, just as Logan and Heidi were, and it amazes me to see how God brought together the pieces of our friendship puzzle. We get this privilege of raising little people together. We get this privilege of sharing in the bitter and the sweet of life together. Best friends forever. No matter what.