A Death in the Family

Recently, the mom of a good friend passed away.

I didn’t even know her name–most of my friends didn’t. We just knew her as Anne’s mom.

We knew she was sick, but none of us even knew–most of us still don’t even know–what kind of cancer she had.

I knew that she was loving and kind and a great mother. I knew that Anne adored her. I knew that a lot of Anne’s time was taken up with taking care of her, but I also knew she didn’t mind taking care of her mom, because Anne loved her.

I remember one day over the summer that me and my friends (mostly me) were trying to talk Anne into convincing her dad to let her off the hook for taking care of her of her mom that day, so that Anne could come get coffee with us. Her dad wouldn’t budge, and god, am I glad he didn’t.

I was never very close with Anne’s mom, but I was–and am–close with Anne. She’s one of my best friends. When my friends and I found out, we said a whole lot of things that you’re supposed to say when someone dies: “The poor family,” “I can’t even imagine,” “I hope Anne’s alright,” “It was so sudden,” “She’s in a better place now.”

When Anne told me, I was shocked. I didn’t think she would joke about something like her mom dying, of course, but I couldn’t process the fact that just like that, her mom was gone. So I asked her if she was serious, and she said yes. I couldn’t believe it.

Anne and her family are Christian, and therefore believe in heaven. I think Anne, especially, needs to believe in heaven: She regrets not spending more time with her mom, and I think she’d like to know that some day she’ll get to spend that lost time with her.

A few hours ago, I was talking to a friend about how I’ve been feeling anxiety related to a feeling of powerlessness (but that’s a story for another post). And I was saying that part of it was that, even though I knew there was absolutely nothing I could have done, I still felt like there was something I should’ve done for Anne’s mom.

But the worst part about it is there was really nothing that we can do, as Anne’s friends, besides be there for her. And by god I am going to be there for her.

I say a death in the family because to me, my friends are my family. Anne is like my sister–all of our friends are Anne’s sisters. We’ll be there for her through everything. We know our presence, however loving, will not fill the cracks left behind by the presence of her mom. But maybe, just maybe, we can start to tape them back together.

Anyway, my friend was saying to me that even though I don’t believe in any of it, that Anne’s mom was probably in heaven–probably in a better place. And that’s the problem: I don’t know if I believe in heaven. I’d like to think there’s a place we go when we die. I’d like to think that someday Anne will be able to see her mom again. I’d like to think there’s a beautiful place in the sky where everyone can just be. But I don’t know what I think.

Anne seems to be handling it well–she’s quieter, I think, but she’s already back to making yo momma jokes, so I think she’s gonna be alright. I don’t know how long it will take, and I don’t know what her grieving process is going to require.

But I do know one thing:

If there is a heaven, then Anne will meet her mom there someday.

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