It’s been a hard week. I’m home again and exhausted. I slept for almost 12 hours last night, and spent all today feeling very ill on the couch. Whenever I wake up the reality of my friend Leanne’s death is like a heavy weight falling on me. I woke at 5am and sobbed my heart out into the bedsheets. It’s overwhelming. There’s such a sense of being torn from a future I thought I was working towards. When the grief comes over me the pain is physical, tendons in my shoulders scream, muscles ache in my calves, I can’t catch my breath. It’s hard to bear.
I talk to Rose about her, about the ways they’re similar, how much I think they would have got along, how delighted she would have been to meet our children. When guilt creeps in and self loathing eats at me, I say to myself “I don’t have time for that” and I think of how brief life can be, and how quickly it can be taken from us.
No one knows yet what killed my friend, she was only in her forties. She died in her sleep, at peace, no mess, no pain, no waking to feel heart failing or stroke crippling the brain. Her eyes still closed, her face resting in one hand. It’s an image that stays with me.
I want her back. But I’m determined to grieve her loss in a way that doesn’t harm me. She brought so much to my life. My world is so diminished by her death. But I won’t be less for knowing her. I won’t add to my pit of self hate. I won’t withdraw from Rose and my friends. I won’t just push through and ignore this, or pretend it’s not a tragedy. I’ll remember her wonderful humour and how important it is to get together with friends and laugh. To be surrounded by books and music and animals. To shut out the world when it’s overwhelming, and find the courage to get back into it when you need freedom again. I am different for having known her. I am better for having known her. I’m going to hurt and I’m going to heal. I’ll hold all my memories precious, and I’ll love those I still have here. I’ll do my best to make her proud.