There have been a number of times in the last 5 years that I’ve literally thought I might lose my mind. This is one of those times.
The news yesterday, of my oldest friend being found dead, alone in his home, hit my like a ton of bricks. The words, ‘Ryan passed away’, sent waves of shock through my body- a feeling I last had in the NICCU when the doctors told us “Your son has massive, irreversible brain damage and will likely have mental retardation and cerebral palsy. It is that feeling like the world is caving in upon me. All the moisture leaves my mouth. My eyes get wide as saucers, my throat closes and a panic attack begins. I shrink into myself like a child trying to protect my heart from this unthinkable pain.
Ryan was just 37 yrs old. One year ahead of me. His death was unexpected, shocking and has left a gaping hole in the hearts of his family and friends.
I can’t seem to escape the torrent of emotions that this tragedy has unleashed and so here I sit, letting them flow onto paper, in hopes that they won’t drown me.
Ryan’s death comes at a vulnerable time in my life and is hitting me harder than I could’ve ever imagined. This last weekend we came so close to losing Oliver. If I had slept in another hour, if he had rolled onto his back, if his oxygen had gone any lower, he would’ve died too. When Oliver was intubated, we had a conversation with the doctor about end of life wishes. When he asked me, ‘If his heart stops, do you want us to revive him?” I fully lost it. Although I’ve imagined his death countless times, when it feels close to actually happening, the emotions are soul crushing. This is what I’ve been feeling for Ryan’s parents, who lost their only child too early. Too suddenly. I feel their loss so deeply in my heart and wish, with everything in me, that I could ease their pain.
I have spent the last 5 years surrounded by sickness, chronic illness and the anticipation that, in the coming years, I will have to say goodbye to many people I love. I have 5 terminally ill family members, whose illnesses and the management of them are woven throughout our life. And then, of course, there is my own son who continues to have episodes that force me to face the reality that some day he may be taken from me. My tears today are for them all.
Indeed I have faced death many times, but it has never actually come to that… yet. I have planned funerals in my head, rehearsed eulogies, and planned for how life will change when that person is no longer here on earth. But this death, I did not expect. No one did.
And I’m having trouble getting up after the shock of yet another unexpected blow when I’m already down. It makes me think of that song that I quoted in one of my last blog entries that says,
“Don’t worry about the future.
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed you’re worried mind… The kind that blindside you at 4 PM on an idle Tuesday”
I know I cannot plan for these things. I know I can’t avoid the pain that will come and that the only path through is real acceptance and surrender. I know I will survive this too. But today it feels like I won’t. Today I can’t do anything but cry. And that’s ok.
My is tendency to turn all the pain and anger inward and berate myself for not handling this with more grace, less emotion and more consciously. But that’s a bunch of bullshit. My true test today is to honor this process of grief and loss, a journey I have learned so much about, and love myself through this very human experience of life.
I’m sorry you went so soon old friend. You will be missed by many. ❤