Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy… A Letter for My Friend

October 29, 2013 · Filed Under Healing Grief & Loss · Comment 

I awakened today to a phone call from Debbie, the daughter of one of my oldest, dearest friends, Lee, informing me that her mother had died. Lee, who was was days away from her 85th birthday, lived with the spirit and gusto of one at least twenty years younger.

Some might say, She was blessed to live 85 years, a good thing. Yes, she was blessed and it was a good thing. But, selfishly, I knew she loved me and I knew how much my love for her meant to her. What I knew for sure was that I could no longer meet her for lunch, something we did very infrequently – because I knew she was always there and we would always be able to make it happen. But that is not so anymore.

I can't hug her, hear her voice, or explain to her why I did not get back to her when she worried that something terrible had happened to me because she was unable to reach me. This time, it was Lee who had something "terrible" happen to her. My grief is deep , my heart is heavy and I feel alone, though I have such a beautiful husband and family to support and sustain me.

I immediately felt Debbie's pain and that of her family. I know their hearts are broken and that they are devastated. I also felt a deep sense of personal disappointment that Lee would not be physically present to see our son, David, who had been her Montessori student for three years, be married in just a few weeks. What contributed to my sadness was the realization that David would never have that special reunion with his first school teacher who had lovingly kept him in her heart.

Lee's spirit is vital, filled with compassion, humor, joy and love. Everyone will miss her, of this, I am sure. I ache for her precious Chester, her golden doodle and her beloved companion. I know Chester is confused, hurting and dearly missing Lee, though he is protected and safe as he now shares his life with Debbie, her husband and their dogs. Yet, I feel his pain for his "mom." I know how deeply animals grieve their loved ones.

After hanging up from Debbie, the tears just kept coming, until I could hardly breathe. My heart ached and felt as though it had been broken into smithereens. I began having flashbacks of all the others in my life that had died relatively recently, including my parents, other friends and my patients with whom I had worked for many years.

I have always known that with each present loss we experience, the vibration of our pain causes our cells to reverberate with similar vibrations of multiple past losses. Somehow feeling the pain we felt in the past paradoxically hurts and soothes us in the present moment. It reminds us of how heartbroken we were and that we had wondered how we would ever be able to go on. It also reminds us that, somehow, we did survive. All of this rose up for me as I released my pain and felt my sorrow.

What kept coming to mind was how much she had loved and cared about me, and how fortunate I had been to have her in my life all these years. But saying goodbye is neither acceptable nor easy. How grateful I was that we had our lunch together just weeks ago. We had never had such a long lunch – three hours – and it went so quickly! We probably would have kept going if the restaurant had not emptied out while we were chatting, leaving us feeling a bit conspicuous.

I found it comforting to learn that Lee died in her safe room, upstairs in her home, with her Chester by her side, surrounded by photos of her family and her husband, Walter, who had died many years before. And while I knew that her Guardian Angel was with her to lovingly guide her on her journey and that she would be assisted, as well, by Walter and loved ones, I felt sad that no one was there to hold her hand or give her a hug. Yet, I felt that her God was good to her in that she died in a place she loved and that her death was quick. She was not one to ever wish to be a burden to anyone else. She died as she lived – with her dignity in place. I knew this was a good thing.

I know, too, that as I write this, she is aware of everything I have been thinking and writing, and she is listening to the vibrations of my heart. She is Love and I know she will always be available to me. I will always smile – my heart will always smile – whenever I think of this beautiful, delicious, leprechaun-like soul who loved life, loved humanity and always made you feel you were special. What an amazing role model she has been for those of us who loved, admired and have been inspired by her!

Lee, I know your love and spirit will be with me through eternity. I love you, dear, sweet Lee, more than I can possibly ever express in words.

For those of you who are reading this and presently experiencing the challenge of loss, my heart goes out to you. May you balance your pain with light and joy, enabling you to find peace and healing.

Love & Healing,

Susan Apollon
©2013  Susan Barbara Apollon