For my friends, as their hearts break

I’m very sorry this has happened to you all.

You’re babies. I call you all babies in my mind. I know this is incredibly annoying because I’m only a handful of years older than you. But to me, you were all babies.

Unfortunately, your dear friend — who I am sad to say, I did not have the pleasure of knowing — was taken from you. This violent, senseless act of terrorism against his life and story, against your lives and stories… It won’t ever go away. It won’t ever get better. It will never, I’m afraid to tell you, make sense.

When I heard the news of this, I couldn’t catch my breath. Because it threw me backwards, spun me through space and time, back to an April morning in 2013 when I learned that I had aged 100 years overnight and didn’t even know it. I recalled the bitter taste of disbelief and the wails of grief and the beeping of hospital machines and the knowledge that our lives would forever be marked by this: before and after.

In the days and weeks and months and years following our loss, my friends and I would check in, would nudge each other with a simple text: “love.” To be answered only with the same in reply.

Love.

When you asked me what you should do, I stared at the text for a long time. Because there’s nothing you can say when someone’s world is shattering. I sent you a lot of text messages in reply. I’m sorry I didn’t call — I couldn’t find the words.

“There’s nothing to do but be really really sad and angry. There’s nothing you can do to make this hurt less. It’s just going to hurt. I’m sorry. You’re not going to feel better for a while.”

And that’s true. You won’t feel better for a while. This is going to color things, change things, distort things. You’re not going to know what’s up and what’s down and in a world that’s suddenly foreign to you, the one thing you can do is cling to the other people in the storm with you. You’re a special fraternity now, you see. A club of sorts. Welcome. I’m sorry you’re here.

You’ll survive. It seems unthinkable, but you will.

You’re going to think about the things that made your friend so exceptional, and then you’re going to work towards being those things. You’ll be kinder, you’ll be more open, you’ll love more deeply. You’ll choose to let the light and love in at the broken places. I know you will, I know you can.

You’re going to tell people who never got to meet him all about him, so that they can love him, too.

If I could somehow keep you kiddos (sorry, again) from experiencing this, I would. I would take it from you, deal with it, sort through it. I wish I could. I can’t. But I can promise you that you will survive.

Remember:

“Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”

I’m so sorry.

I’m here if I can help.

Love.