On Grief + Love
I’ve been sitting on my couch staring at my laptop for the last three hours. I’ve spent the last 72 hours crying in a way that only someone who has intimately experienced loss or has gone through the various stages of grief can understand. It feels like someone took my heart out of my chest and stomped it to pieces. I have barely slept. I wake up hoping, and at this point praying, that whatever is happening is just a bad dream. It is not. The only way I can explain this is that I am grieving for a love not yet lost.
Out of respect for the families and all of the people involved, I will not share any details publicly about this situation. In a way, this is definitely my story to share. But in another, it is not. It’s also too real, too raw, too painful right now. There are too many questions, not enough answers. I am hoping and praying for a small miracle. I’ve experienced miracles before and I’m remaining hopeful that this situation can and will end well. And I am asking that you do the same. Hope and pray for my family. For everyone involved. For all people who are going through hard times. For humanity. You can never have too much hope.
I’ve spent nearly every waking moment in the last 72 hours – which have now outnumbered moments of sleep – on the phone trying to piece together this story that doesn’t make any sense to me. When I’m not on the phone, my thoughts have consumed me. I now know more about things I never thought I’d need to know about in my life. I might not be able to help in this situation but I’m now trying to figure out how I might be able to apply the things I’ve learned in order to help others. Those who want to be helped. Those who want out of a dark hole. Those who don’t want to live a life that resembles hell on earth. Because I have learned once again that you honestly cannot help people who do not want help. It’s heartbreaking but so true.
I’ve also spent every waking moment in the last 72 hours surrounded – both physically and virtually – by close friends. And that is why I am writing this post. I’ve always had a lot of friends but never have I felt like I’ve had more sisters as friends than I do right now (and this includes my real sister, of course). They have reached out around the clock to check on me. To find out if there’s anything new to report. And they have done so despite the fact that they too are going through different things in their lives. I haven’t even asked how they’re doing. Maybe I have. I can’t remember. I feel like a terrible friend. But this is real friendship. This is sisterhood. And I could not be more grateful to have them in my life. Right now and always. You all know who you are. And I love you to pieces.
This morning I opened a gift from one of these sisters. It’s a compass. At first I was confused. Then I remembered that I was recently in DC and someone gave me directions along the lines of “walk NW through the park” which is funny because I sometimes need to use Google Maps just to get around the block. I told her that her directions would have been perfect if I had a compass. But I knew this wasn’t from her. I read the card and burst into tears. It was the most beautiful note I think I could have read this morning. It was totally what both my heart and my head needed today. To remember the importance of friends. To never forget the things in life that are truly important. And the compass makes perfect sense in so many ways. I will treasure it forever and ever. It is beautiful. Thank you, my dear dear friends. I love you both. To the moon and back.
And to those of you who have reached out because I haven’t posted anything on social media in five days, I love you too. And you’ve made me smile. Clearly I live my life pretty openly. I was recently talking with a friend after reading an article in the New York Times about the number of people who die alone. We both live alone and were wondering how that could happen. It’s tragic. I realized then that there are people I talk to every day and if a day went by and they didn’t hear from me, they’d most definitely send the search team. I didn’t mean to not post in the last five days. I meant to take a day or two off from social media. But then life happened. And there wasn’t anything I could say or post that would articulate how I’ve been feeling in an honest way without alarming everyone. I didn’t realize that my lack of posting would trigger a virtual search team. I am sorry I worried you. You all also know who you are. And you are awesome. I promise you this: I am OK.
I know this post is all over the place. On normal days, I am usually all over the place. I like to think of it as my sparkling effortless charm. But there is a method to the madness. There are a few things that I’ve been thinking about a LOT over the past few days and I wanted to share with the hope that it’ll help someone else.
First, when people are going through a difficult time, don’t ask “are you ok?” It’s highly likely that they are not OK. It’s also highly likely that they will be OK again. It’s a VERY hard question to answer, for the person who is going through the hard time. Nobody wants to say “no, I’m not OK.” And, honestly, how do you, the asker, respond to that anyway? Deep down we know we are OK. We don’t need you to ask. Unless you are a miracle worker. Then, by all means, do your thing. But really, all we need to know is that you’re thinking about us and you are there for us. We’ll be OK. I’ll be OK. I am OK. Having a sad heart is OK. It’s part of life. OK?
Second, smile at people who look like they could use a smile. Smile at people who are smiling back. You really never know what people are going through. And you will 100 percent be grateful to be on the other side of that smile when you need one. Yesterday I hopped on the train, got off in lower Manhattan, and walked around the city aimlessly for three hours. I had sunglasses on but was quietly crying during different parts of my walk. There were people who stared and whispered to their partner. There were people who smiled. You can guess which one made all the difference in the world. I found my inner happiness and smiled back.
And, finally, when all else fails in life, walk into a cupcake shop and order the largest cupcake you can find. Make sure it’s covered in sprinkles, has some shade of pink, and is piled high with frosting. Bonus if it also has filling. Sit by the window, smile at passersby, clear your mind, open your heart. Then reach out to all of the people who are closest to you in life and tell them you love them. Because that is all that matters in life.
My wish for those of you reading this is that you’re surrounded by love this holiday season. That in times of trouble you are able to look for the light. That you don’t experience pain but if you do you’re surrounded by love. That you both give and receive smiles and hugs freely. That you’re able to always see the beauty in life, even when it seems impossible. That you are lucky enough to have the same kind of friends that have been my rock these past few days. And that when life hands you lemons, you turn them into a lemon cupcake. With lots of frosting and sprinkles.