Less than 48 hours ago, I lost a very dear friend and surrogate mother. She passed away after a long battle with lung problems. She was only 65. So when nothing makes sense and I don’t know what to do, I write. Sometimes it is only then that I know what I needed to say.
I met Sandy when my family lived 2 doors down from her. She was pregnant with her son, Danny, when my mom was pregnant with my sister, C.J. She had 2 dogs, Mocha and Katie, whom I adored. I would even walk around the green belt with her as she picked up dog poop because I found every chance I had to be with her to be enjoyable. I babysat Danny and watched him grow up. He might as well be my brother for how much I love him like one.
Sandy and I were very close. In fact, she was the one I traveled with to Ithaca, NY last year for her son’s graduation. Our first and only trip together. Those memories I will hold close to my heart. I even journaled about everything that happened on that trip while we were there. I chronicled even the piddly little details of the journey, thinking Why I am writing all of these stupid things down? No one cares. How wrong I was! I was able to break out my journal over the last several weeks and re-live those memories with Sandy all over again.
I spent some decent chunks of time with Sandy over the last 3 weeks or so. I brought her food and lattes, sat with her and filled her in on the details of my life at the moment, and read to her from my journal all of the things that I needed to say again. It brought such joy to me, and to her, to re-read all of the things we did and the places we went when we were in Ithaca. We had philosophical conversations at a place called the Boat Yard about life, having kids, and the importance of weeding one’s garden of life to make room for new growth. We laughed and cried as I read to her, and I shared some new writing that I’ve been doing as part of the exercises from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I was able to pour my heart and soul out to her these last few weeks with my writing, and I’ve sent her numerous cards and letters over the years expressing my love for her. It is because of her that I will pursue becoming a bestselling author with even more invigoration, as it will be a way to honor her.
If you have things you need to say to people, forgiveness you need to make happen, apologies you need to give, please do it. There is no better place to do so than in the present moment. Life is too short. If I learned one thing from Sandy, it would be this:
Fling open wide the gates of your heart. If you are struggling with something in your life (like hyperhidrosis, for example), I implore you to be vulnerable and ask for help. For it is only there where true connection can happen. Look around you for the “helpers” in your life. They are there, waiting to be of service to you. It’s okay to not always have everything together. That’s what friends and family do. Help hold you up when you can’t do it yourself. Allow yourself to love and to be loved. That is what life is all about.
Yesterday I came home early from work. I grabbed my two journals and a couple of InkJoy 700 RT pens (they are the best I’ve found for my slanted, furiously fast journal writing) and found a park with a nice tree to write and cry under. While I was sitting in the dirt connecting to my roots, a breeze suddenly blew over me. It had a sound, a Shhhh sound, like Sandy was speaking through the wind and letting me know it was okay now. I also saw a robin on 3 separate occasions that afternoon. I’m not sure if Sandy had an affinity for robins in particular, but I know she likes birds like I do, so I think that was her, too.
When I got home from journaling, it started raining. I sat on the (finally) green grass in my backyard and turned my face up toward the drops, letting them mix with my tears into the larger universe. As I closed my eyes, they were flooded with bright red light—Sandy’s love. When the rain stopped, I noticed my tears had, too.
Later that night, I went through the drive thru at McDonald’s in an attempt to comfort myself. I’ve had many happy memories over Happy Meals, so I figured it might help. My total was $7.12, which is Danny’s birthday. Here’s the song that was playing on the radio at that time:
So today I am sitting at home in my dorky sweatpants with the moose on them that I bought with her during a trip to Estes Park, staring at the tree pictures she bought for me at the Arts Picnic, and weeping over her departure. Sandy’s roots have been upturned and replanted in Heaven; I have my own personal angel in the sky now, whose roots are being pumped full of the cleanest, purest air. She can breathe without fear now. And for that, I am grateful.
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