Finding Strength in Sorrow

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Butch’s name flashed across my phone screen.  “Hello,” I said desperately hoping for some good news, knowing in my heart that it was a long stretch.  Earlier in the afternoon I had received a phone call from my friend Lyn’s daughter informing me that her mom, my friend of 40 plus years was unconscious in the Idaho Falls hospital ICU.  “She has blood clots in her heart.” she sighed.  I couldn’t breathe, I put my hand over my heart in an attempt to keep it from breaking.  I swallowed hard to fight back the tears.  I was scared, this couldn’t be happening! 

It was now evening and Butch, Lyn’s husband, was on the other end of the line.  His voice was shaky and filled with emotion.  He shared with me what the doctor had conveyed to him.  “If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t give her very good odds!” My heart sank.

I didn’t want to hear it!  She’s a fighter, my optimistic self cried.  She has cheated death before, she can do it again.  She is like that proverbial cat, with limitless lives.  She will just pull another one out of her bag of tricks.  Deep in my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn’t happening this time.  “We have to remember the good times,” he admonished as the conversation came to a close.  

Remembering the good times with Lyn wasn’t difficult.  There were volumes of crazy, fun filled memories.  There were also the pages that held the heart breaking times of loss that we had gone through together. The times that we leaned on each other, that we cried until we were so exhausted and there was nothing left.  Times that I laughed so hard that I had a hard time keeping my panties dry.  There were 40 years of ups and downs, twists and turns, good times and bad. But no more to look forward to…the final chapter had been written.  Her story had come to an abrupt end.

Dealing with loss is difficult. I’m still numb.  I feel like I’m in one of those nightmares, the kind that causes your heart to race, where you sweat and thrash until you wake with a jolt and a cry.  Only this time…I’m wide awake.

Grief and sorrow open the floodgates to the naysayers and should haves if we allow it.  “I should have…!”  “Why didn’t I…..?”   “If only I would have…!”   “What if I hadn’t…?”  

The past week has been filled with, “if onlys!” and “I should haves”  You know the haunting thoughts that I’m talking about.  The regrets. “I wish I would have said this or that!”  “I wish I hadn’t said this or that!”  “I should have told her how grateful I was that she was a part of my life!’’  All the unsaids.  

When we have time to prepare for a loved one’s passing, we get the chance to express our final thank yous and goodbyes. However, when the passing is sudden and unexpected, we are often left with the unspoken. How many times have we heard it said, “Tell those special people in your life just how much they mean to you.  You never know what tomorrow will bring!”  You never know if your parting words may be the last ones.  Keep that in mind.  It’s a scary thought, but true.  We don’t know what is just around the corner, what the next step of the plan is going to be.  Take it from me, it’s heart wrenching to live with regret. The emotional rollercoaster ride of losing someone is hard enough without attaching regret and remorse to it. 

As I set in the early morning hour shroud in the heaviness of grief and regret, Butch’s admonishment to me surfaced in the darkness, “Remember the good times,” he had advised.  

Strolling down memory lane allowed me to step out of the gray mist of grief and regret for a while.  I tapped into my heart and connected with the healing power of memories filled with joy.  Memories that shined a beacon of hope for now and the future.  

Lyn was always the life of the party!  There was never a dull moment when she was around, it was always an adventure.  

Often, your question would be answered with a song as her beautiful alto voice belting out an off the cuff response.  Her bold statements and infectious sense of humor would cause a room to erupt with fits of laughter.  Behind her mischievous grin you could see the clogs of her imagination churning out the next wild idea.  These are the times that I want to remember. I told myself.  The fun loving, happy birthday greetings sung Marilyn Monroe style.  The off the wall, imaginative stories of our future adventures.  Cutting a rug on the dance floor, laughing and having the time of our lives without a care of what others were thinking. Those are the times I choose to bring to the forefront of my book of remembrance.  

Tears of regret were replaced with tears of gratitude. I am so grateful for the time that I got to spend with my partner in crime.  As I sit  in my own little world remembering the good times and pushing the not-so-good to the outer limits of my mind, I find that I get to view the rough spots as periods of growth for both of us.  Those times were what made us strong.  I won’t forget them, they were periods of transformation for us. But, I choose to bring the fun, enjoyable times to the forefront of my memory to hold and cherish.   

Gratitude heals.  It assists in flipping the positive switch, shining light in times of darkness.  It reminds you that even in times of loss and grief you have much to be thankful for.  It seeps into your heart and applies the balm of healing, soothing the hurt and pain.  I was hoping for many more years of antics, but my heart is overflowing with the good times that will be with me throughout the remainder of my earthly journey and beyond.

I will allow myself time to reflect, grieve and heal.  I know that there are going to be some rough times ahead.  At times, I feel her presence.  I can hear her chuckle.  In times of deep sorrow, I feel her embrace.  I have heard her admonishments to, “knock it off!” when I start to beat myself up over the “if onlys”.  She is still with me, just encouraging and cheering me on from the heavenly realms. 

With her help, I will restore joy and harmony to my life as I celebrate the fun times as well as the heart breaking ones that we have shared.  I will allow gratitude for our years together to support and heal the inner and outer me. I will carry her in my heart and memory until our heavenly reunion.

 

In loving memory of Lyn Austin Maupin.  Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the lessons, the strength, the good times and the bad and the eternal friendship.

IMG_9587True friendship is a beautiful gift.  Two souls are drawn to each other, finding happiness in one another’s existence.  There are no expectations except to love and be loved, to be there for one another and to laugh with one another.

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