My friend died. I had a knee-jerk reaction to come here and write, to let the emotions tumble out, to assuage my grief. To get it over with.
Except when I got here, I didn’t know what to say. There was nothing to say. How silly of me to think I could begin to process grief the moment it happened.
She died a week ago and her funeral was today. I sit here with a stack of tissues, the lights turned low and the house is quiet, and I think I’m ready to pay tribute to my friend.
Her name was Suzanne. She was a coworker, though it wouldn’t be until after she moved on that she became my cheerleader.
People say that social media is impersonal. Maybe it is – after all, it’s been years since we saw one another. We interacted entirely through Facebook.
I can’t say when, exactly, it started. Perhaps we shared some interests, perhaps she simply enjoyed watching my family grow, but she was always in the conversation, dropping advice or bits of wisdom or encouraging words. She always said the right thing at the moment I needed to hear it. Bad day? Suzanne could fix it! Struggles with children? Suzanne could encourage you through them! Proud of your kids? Suzanne was proud, too!
I imagine she did this with a lot of people. She was popular on Facebook, sharing her successes and struggles with cancer, showing off her love of nature, regaling us with tales from the media industry, her common-sense, no-nonsense attitude shining through in every word. I loved to read and follow her posts because they sounded so intelligent and all the comments were intelligent. You can’t find that kind of conversation just anywhere! I consider it an honor that I was allowed to be in that echelon.
There were two pivotal moments in our friendship. The first was when she acknowledged me as a fellow writer. She encouraged me to write and seemingly enjoyed my material. So I started writing again as often as time allowed. The second was when she raised the white flag on her cancer with such dignity and courage. Gee whiz. How dare I spend so much time fretting over the small stuff when my friend is dying?
To live each day like it’s the last is really hard. I can’t do it. Suzanne would no doubt disagree then help me find a way. The world is really big and overwhelming and scary. But I can look at it through her eyes, at the way she handled her life, and make my way.
A few weeks ago, I wrote Suzanne a personal note. It’s not often you get to have a few last words with friends, so I took advantage of the opportunity to thank her for her friendship and inspiration. She replied that she wasn’t sure how the afterlife worked but that she intended to be in touch. I think I agree.
Since she’s not here to cheerlead me through my grief, I guess I’ll have to start saying, “What Would Suzanne Do?”
Suzanne would tell me to wake up tomorrow and enjoy the sunrise, show people kindness and work with a smile on my face. So that’s what I’ll do.