Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Losing a Friend

Well, it was back to work today. Yeah, I wound up taking an extra day on account of my mental health -- I thought I would lose my mind if I went back to work! I expected the usual "How was your vacation?" queries. What I wasn't prepared for were the sympathies expressed by my coworkers regarding the death of my former mother-in-law. I was shocked that anyone even knew about it, much less cared. While we're not a close workgroup -- no going out for drinks, or office Christmas parties, or anything -- we are a small group that has been together for years and we have shared one another's highs and lows. In this case, it was certainly a "low".

My ex-husband's mother was unique, if nothing else. She had a heart of gold, tissue paper feelings, and an exterior that was tough as nails. She was part of my life during one of its lowest periods, and remained my friend throughout. She was sometimes painfully insecure, and tended to take things so personally she only got tougher -- on the outside. Inside, she could be a scared little girl seeking only to do for those she loved, that they might think she was "the best..." She had a mail order style business in which she was her best customer, buying for family and friends. When others playfully teased her she came right back at them with everything she had, but when she sensed hostility or criticism, she would cave like a wounded child. This wasn't a case of being able to dish it out without being able to take it, this was a woman who had endured years of abuse at her own hand as well as those of others. My heart went out to her; she was a living premonition of what I would have become had I not made some serious changes in my life. My desire was to walk with her the way she walked with me -- slowly, steadily -- so that, while I could never save her, perhaps I could show her that salvation was a possibility. Perhaps I could make her journey just a little less wearying.

It was not to be. Circumstances made it impossible for me to continue being her friend. I hadn't seen her for almost three years and, while I thought I had sufficiently grieved the loss of a friend when our relationship was dissolved, it was not enough. Her passing has left me a deluge of memories with no sign of stopping. I was unable to adequately say a final, public farewell, as I'd planned. So, I suppose this is it.
"Good Night, Ellie. I've missed you, I will miss you, and I will always love you."

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