The summer heat boiled the atmosphere, waves rolling off the black asphalt and stealing the air from my lungs. I could feel my skin flushing under the harsh rays of sunlight, even through my jeans, but I stood still. Waiting. She said she would come, that she would be here this time. Something in her voice when she called made me believe her, but something always made me believe. Maybe I just wanted it that badly, that I grasped on to any reason I could find. After this many years I should know better, but here I am. 

A hot breeze stifled everything as it came through, filling my nostrils with arid heat and making my eyes water. Sweat began to form on my upper lip, little salty beads of water that I wiped away impatiently as reality started to sink in. She wasn’t coming. There would be a call tomorrow, or the next day, or if she was particularly out of it not for weeks. There would be an excuse, there was always an excuse. Her voice would crack, maybe she’d cry, she would tell me she’s sorry. I told myself I wouldn’t forgive her this time. Not now, not for this. Of all the days I needed her to show up, today I needed her the most. This time I wouldn’t let the guilt get to me, I wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to hear. My throat tightened at the lie. I’d always forgive her. This was what we did, every year. 

I chewed on my lower lip, debating how much longer I would wait before walking back to my car and driving home. Alone, again. My head had started to ache and my mouth was dry, I’d already been out here for 3 hours. Any longer would be foolish, and yet I couldn’t get my feet to move. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that she had left me waiting again, and leaving would make it real. I wandered over to a large Oak tree at the edge of the park, and eased myself down underneath its’ dappled shade. One more hour wouldn’t hurt, I could give her that.

In Memory

I sat down and started to write this post about two weeks ago. I couldn’t finish it. I’ve been going through weird little writing spurts. I’ll have something I want to say and get it out three different ways, and the next day I’ll just stare at a page or a screen before walking away and doing something else. Even now I have to keep redirecting my focus back to this, my mind is so ready to be distracted by anything. Mother’s Day gifts I need to order, dishes that need to be done, cleaning I need to do, or projects I want to work on. This may take me longer than normal to get out, and I think that is because maybe some part of me still naively thinks that if I don’t put this out there, it won’t be real.

Almost 3 weeks ago, I received news that has forever changed me and my life. A friend of mine, that had been an integral part of my life for over a decade, passed away. Friend isn’t strong enough, she was a part of our family. She was more involved in our lives, more present, than any of mine and my husband’s siblings. Which is no shade on them, it’s just important to illustrate how involved and constant she was in our lives. As a mother, and a wife, there are few people that you will find in life that click into your family like they were made to be there. Stephanie was my best friend, but she was close with my husband, and with our daughters as well. Loosing her, we lost a part of our family.

I woke up this morning, I was tired. Not so much physically, but greatly emotionally drained. In my head I thought, maybe I should have someone over today, maybe I need some company right now. Immediately my mind jumped to Stephanie, and just as immediately I knew that wasn’t an option. I knew the fact that wasn’t an option was why I am so emotionally tapped out, why I’m sleeping even worse than I usually do, and why I was feeling like I needed someone to share space with me today. Instantly there’s a weird sinking, empty feeling that enters my chest. Then there’s weird little war inside me. Am I going to be productive this morning or am I going to feel. I can’t do both fully, they don’t go well together. Generally, since I am almost never alone, I tuck the feelings away and move about my day. I’m not afraid for my kids to know that I feel, but I do believe that it is my responsibility to make sure they feel like they are in a stable environment. Being emotionally stable is a big part of that. Tucking the hard things away is a challenge, but everyone grieves differently, so I’ve been told, for me it’s hard still not to get swept up in the grief if I let those thoughts in.

I’ve already discussed why this space is important for me, for my writing, and for my emotional and mental processing. Now it is even more important for me to give time and energy to this space. When I first considered creating this space, I spoke with my husband about it. Then, I spoke with Stephanie. I told her I wanted to do it, told her I was going to do it, told her- I did it!! We talked about the name, what should it be? What was available? Was this too vague, was this too many words, etc. She was a part of this space from its inception. After? Once the site was live, I told her. She subscribed, but not passively. I would post a piece, or write out a blog post like this, and she would reach out to me about her thoughts or how something connected with her. She was so supportive, and genuine. Knowing that she was on the other side of what I was sharing gave me comfort.

She believed in me and my dreams, she never judged or doubted. When I doubted myself she snapped me out of it. She would listen when I was in pain, show up for the big moments and the little ones. I feel like it’s only fair that the world stops and recognizes what they’ve lost and mourns her absence. At the same time, I know that she would want everyone she loved to keep moving, keep growing, and keep chasing after their dreams. So I get up in the morning, I get dressed, I’ll go run my errands and do my chores, I’ll keep moving. All the while knowing that it will never be the same, but hoping that if I live my life well she’ll know, and be proud.

Stephanie 2016
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