Over the weekend I was talking with a friend who had just lost her mother. In listening to her recount her loss, my emotion swelled up and a tear sprang loose, invoking the same in her. I told her I was sorry and she asked me if it ever gets any easier–dealing with the loss of your mother. I told her that I need the moments where I can just be sad, let the tears flow freely, miss my mom, and express my pain and grief anew. I hugged her tightly and in that moment we grieved together for our mothers who are no longer with us and who at the same time are always with us.
Each year this date approaches and I contemplate how I’m going to deal with it. It is not the anniversary of my mom’s passing, but it is the anniversary of the passing of two dear friends and a beloved canine companion.
On this date when I was 17 years old I made the decision to put down my pet of 15 years, who had been my constant companion for as long as I remembered. Then on this date when I was 19 years old I lost a sweet friend in a tragic accident. Then on this date when I was 20 years old I lost a vibrant and seemingly “happy” friend to suicide. 17 years have passed but the pain of their absence lingers on.
I’ve not been able to pass this day without acknowledging my absent friends. It’s as if I feel I would somehow let them down if I did not remember. If I did not share that I remembered.
News of Robin William’s suicide broke as I was contemplating this anniversary. His death is tragic on so many levels. For those of us who did not know him but felt like we knew him because of the joy he brought into our lives, we mourn from a distance and with confusion. Mental illness, depression, and suicide touch so many yet our society still feels a need to stigmatize those who suffer.
So today I remember this anniversary that is so important to me with this prayer:
Lord, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for all those souls who have touched my life. Help me to be present and to be kind. Please comfort those who mourn and strengthen those who suffer. May grace and peace guide my actions. Amen.