Our family got news this evening that a cousin of Joe’s, who’s about our age, died this evening. She collapsed suddenly last week and never regained consciousness.
Her husband – the nicest guy you’ll ever meet – has kept us all posted from afar each day, showing astonishing grace and courage throughout. For not only is he suddenly staring down life without his partner; he’ll also have to leave a job he loves, which involves a lot of travel, and be both a harbor and a rock for his 12 year old son (who’s also currently demonstrating a level of bravery to which we should all aspire). The woman’s sister has suddenly lost her childhood’s primary witness and companion. And the boy’s grandmother, Joe’s mother’s first cousin, has had to face every parent’s nightmare: watching your child die in front of you, unable to do anything to stop it.
No one yet knows what caused Joe’s cousin, who touched the lives of so many children and adults around her, to collapse. But the suddenness of it has thrown us all for a loop. Joe and I have talked and thought about it every night – how shocking and terrifying it all is, what the latest updates have said, fun memories of time spent with that branch of the family. The tragedy has been a black cloud over our heads, haunting our waking life. (I can’t even imagine how impossible the last week has been for the immediate family.)
And despite our hope for some kind of miracle, the unthinkable has occurred. It just feels so surreal, so numbing. In this first blush of baffled grief, we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves.
Inevitably, you imagine yourself in these horrific circumstances. Not getting to see Lily and Neve grow up, or having to negotiate soul-crushing sadness while simultaneously figuring out how to comfort the girls and parent them solo. Even as hypotheticals, these possibilities unmoor me.
You also naturally think about the things you still want to accomplish and see and do in your life, since time’s not standing still; and what you might do to improve your health and extend your life.
So I’d promised myself I’d post something on the blog more than once this week, for starters, since I draw great satisfaction from the creative writing I do here, and often wish I could post more often; I’m rededicating myself to healthy behaviors (breast exams, flossing, etc.) that I tend to get lazy about; and I’m reveling and basking in the time I get to spend with Joe and to play with my crazy, giggling little daughters.
Ultimately, I’m trying, as I’m sure we’re all trying, to scrabble for positive things to come from this heartbreaking, terrible event. And we’ll continue to do so in the days, weeks, and years to come. If nothing else, this tragedy underscores the value of the time we have – which we all talk about, but seldom feel so palpably.