holding things in tension
I’ve been away. Away in Minnesota with my sister visiting a best friend who is in hospice. During our time here, I wanted so much to be fully present since the present may be all that we have left together.
Stream of conscious writing seems to be what has been in me these days. Words that make up thoughts that bring to mind the most meaningful ripples of a most beloved friend and the irrevocable impact of the closest form of friendship.
On being away...
We wake and we walk and we share and we tidy and we make and we talk and we wait. We wait for moments with her. With the miles between us removed, we’re finally in close proximity to the one we love who suffers so. With closeness comes a sigh of relief in being able to express what we feel in tangible ways through doings and tears and holding hands and knowing smiles.
We listen to something together as she rests, and I notice the way her eye lashes flutter with each gentle blink. I see the rise and fall of her breath in her chest, and I wish that it would never stop and that her body would become strong once again the way she was when we all became what we are to each other.
Pain and loss mix with meaning and joy all-at-once, altogether, intermingled, unseparated. A cold ache mixes with the soothing warmth of being so deeply known. Light wells up with every conversation. Countless wishes and prayers and fond memories and worst probabilities manifest in unexpected ways as I try to learn how to hold the beautiful and the despairing in tension.
We are something so rare with too many secrets and histories to ever be anything but the truest of kin. I remember when she was 12 years old. I remember how we found each other. I remember how she is only 26 as her body fades.
There are not words enough for any of it, really. I cannot describe to you the look in the eyes of my sister or her mother or her brother or her sister-in-law as we contemplate the emptiness of a future without her in it. Eyes meet and words stall because they can’t do this justice or mean nearly enough.
I have come to realize that I do not believe in closure when losing someone who is a part of you. Such loss will never be less significant. The hollow space of their absence will remain even when filled with the most meaningful memories and a deep knowing of their impact imprinted upon your life forever.
There is a token of comfort and semblance of solace in being among those carry it, too. I see this shared pain mirrored in my sister and her mother and feel it each time words aren't needed and trickling tears are enough. My breath catches and my chest swells as a wave of something immense resurfaces with in-between moments. The fullness of joy and honor I know from this rare privilege of being one of her closest, to witness darkness and light together with such transparency, to be a part of each other's healing in some profound way that will surpass our own understanding of endings.
We're in her presence for a few hours at a time and it is easy and familiar and edifying and beautiful and home- just as it has always been. And even in the midst of such suffering, she cares deeply and affirms completely. She is ever seeking, learning, striving to be her truest, most loving self even as energy wanes.
She inspires me on and on to be resilient and honest and gentle and forgiving. She reminds me who I am and who we are and why it matters. She urges me to acknowledge and value both sensitivities and strengths, and pleads me to love myself one inkling as much as she loves me.