Most days, I wake up , collect my iPhone from its perch on the nightstand and begin my morning ritual of checking the weather, any texts that may have come in while I slept (thanks to “do not disturb” I am no longer awakened by the trill of the alert), my email and, okay, I admit it, Facebook. Normally I find relatively banal postings. Beautiful sunsets, last night’s dinner, ISO book suggestions and links to recipes, many of which I download, some of which I have actually made.
One morning, in the middle of March, I was scrolling through my news feed and stopped in my tracks. I gasped. I re-read it three or four times, hoping, wishing that I misunderstood. The air in the room stopped circulating. The crush that a mother feels for another mother’s heartbreak nearly choked me.
There are so many of you that I share stupid banter with on a daily basis. You make me laugh, keep me in on your lives and give me a lot of joy. it is for this reason that I share this tragedy: my son, Xxxx, died on Friday night. He was at a concert in Xxxxx, he took the drug molly and died. He was the funniest, most brilliant and, pretty darn complicated person I have known. We are devastated, but I wanted you to know.
The person who wrote those words, simple, straightforward and with no room for interpretation, is a woman I refer to as “my dear friend that I have never met” because, she is dear to me and, well, we’ve never met. When Jess began her transition, and I, in turn, began this blog, it made the rounds in my immediate area. She and I, it turned out, have many friends in common…one of whom forwarded our story to her. I understood why: she is a mom, a therapist and one of those overflowing-with-compassion kind of people. She, like many other strangers, reached out to me. But she was different. With her sharp and quick wit and her mother bear warmth, I knew we would be friends.
Our oldest children were the same age, both high school juniors. As the school year picked up steam and the college application process was in full swing, we chatted, commiserated, compared notes and kept each other (relatively) sane and (somewhat) under control. Yet we never met in person. (Germane to this lack of meeting: we live in different states.)
As I tried to absorb the brutal fact that her son, the one who was not only the same age as Harrison, but in the same fraternity (albeit at a different school) had done one stupid thing at one stupid moment and was now gone forever, I couldn’t think of one thing I could possibly say to her that would make any difference or quell any pain or make it all go away. Not one. So, in response, I simply commented with a single, solitary ❤ knowing that she would feel my heart aching with her.
That was six months ago.
This morning, I was doing my morning Facebook check and a message popped up:
Me: Hello my friend
Her: Shit morning to you
Me: That good, huh?
Me: Anything in particular or just everything…
A little bit more back and forth, and then this:
Here’s what it says:
Me: I am so sorry. I cannot even imagine and I know there is nothing I can say or do…which bites the big hairy ball.
Her: Which is why I pinged you, you’re not trying to fix it.
Every time we chat, I make sure to say something outrageous, irreverent or sassy knowing that she is going to guffaw which will, at least for a moment, allow her to be free. If someone were to hack my computer and review our chats over the past several years they would either be horrified, outraged or deeply envious of the blast that these two 50-somethings have. And, since we’ve never actually met, I know of her energy, facial expressions and raucous laughter only from photos on Facebook (and we all know how things on Facebook are always honest, true and real…) Iam thrilled every time I see a shot of her looking joyful, if even for a moment.
No, dear friend, I am not trying to fix it. I cannot. No one can. And that really fucking sucks.
We chatted a little bit more until she got a call from her sister. My sign off:
Be kind. Be compassionate.