- Gender and Relationships
I Miss You My Friend
How Death Affects So Many
It's been almost a year since my friend lost her daughter. It was the Monday morning before Thanksgiving when I received the call. I was on my way to work. I just happened to glance down and see my friend's cell phone number on my cell phone screen. I wondered why she was calling me so early because she was supposed to be on vacation. Actually, it was supposed to be a staycation and we had planned to go to lunch that day. I remember thinking that it was awfully early for her to be calling about lunch. Sadly, she was calling to tell me that her twenty year old daughter, her only child, had been killed the night before in a single car accident.
The accident did not occur late at night. No drugs or alcohol were involved. The weather did not play a role. In fact, my friend and her husband had just enjoyed a nice dinner at home with their daughter. She was on her way back to her apartment. The cause of the accident is believed to be texting while driving. This led to driver inattention. Cell phone records support that possibility and I have heard that a witness saw the doomed driver texting just seconds before the accident occurred. In any event, the driver most likely realized that she was about to hit another driver and while attempting to avoid the other driver, she collided with a large utility pole beside the interstate. The impact is believed to have killed her instantly. The car also caught on fire. Death literally can happen in the blink of an eye.
A promising young life was over. My friend's daughter was beautiful. She was smart. I remember telling my friend when her daughter was a teenager that her daughter was the only teenager I could ever recall being able to carry on a conversation with. Most responses from teens would be "yeah, I'll get her" or "uh huh". Not my friend's daughter. She was always courteous and always inquired as to how I was doing. She had the gift of gab. She would have done well as an adult. I know she made her parents proud.
But, on that particular night, she might a mistake - a costly mistake. It cost her, it cost her parents, it cost her family, it cost her friends, and it cost innumerable others as well. She lost her life, a life of promise. Thankfully, I do not think she suffered at the end. Her parents lost their only child. Her extended family lost a cousin and a niece. Her friends at school lost a classmate. Others of us have been affected as well by her death.
I remained saddened by this death and the promise that went with it. It is hard to reconcile such a loss. However, as time goes on, I grieve less for the deceased. Now, I grieve for my friend. I have lost her. I have not lost her in the physical sense but in the relational sense. She is a shadow of the person I once knew. I'm not angry with her, I am just sad. Not sad for myself because of the distance of a friend but sad that my friend is distant from so many things. I just keep telling myself that time will help. It is still seven weeks before the one year anniversary of the accident. In some ways, it seems like a long time but in others, it seems like just yesterday. The accident happened right before the holiday season too. I know there is never a good time for something like this to occur but here we are staring at the holidays again. It took a while for her to come out of her shell after the death. It seems like it was February before I actually saw her again. She went to a therapist for a while. She seemed to be improving. Now, I am not so sure. Now, she seems to be backsliding.
My friend has not been back to work. In fact, she was terminated by her employer after months of not working. I think they were pretty lenient in holding her job for quite a while. They even encouraged her after they terminated her to contact them if she wanted to come back. My friend now says she does not care if she ever works again. She stays with her brother's wife some. Her sister-in-law is suffering from cancer. My friend's sister also attempts to keep her busy and has gotten her to go on a few trips with her. I worry about my friend though because what will happen when the sister-in-law does not need her assistance any longer or the sister has no trips to take her on. I think about my friend and how her father died while she was a child, and how her mother died when her daughter was just a baby and now she has lost her only child. I call my friend. She rarely answers so I leave a message. If she doesn't call in a week or so, I call again and leave another message just telling her to call when she feels up to it. I wonder why it is that my friend has lost so much - her father, her mother, her child. I look at my own situation and am thankful that I still have both my boys. I pray every night for their safety. I know how quickly that can change.
So, there is supposed to be a lesson in every story. This one is full of them. First of all, pay attention to the road when you are driving. You owe it to yourself. If you don't believe that, you certainly owe it to the other drivers out there with you. You owe it to the people that love you and love your family. A senseless death creates a great deal of collateral damage. Lesson number two - love your family and your friends, you never know when they might be gone or when you might be gone. Finally, be there in whatever way you are allowed when someone suffers a loss, particularly the loss of a child. I can't say that I know how my friend feels but I hope she knows I am here for her.
So, my friend, I know your life will never be the same. Maybe the passage of a year, maybe getting the holidays behind you again will help even if it is just for a little while, even if it is just in cycles. Whenever it is, come on back. I miss you my friend.