today should have been the birthday of a very dear friend, Kathy, a co-worker and kindred spirit who in many ways helped me become the woman i am now. she nurtured me in this wacky career, laughed and cried with me when both were needed -- and there was a LOT of laughing -- and emboldened me to believe in myself and my own strength, and championed the spirit of adventure with which we faced life.
less than three weeks after I lost Isabela, Kathy was suddenly killed in a ridiculous, senseless car wreck. i was still so raw from the baby's death, and my desperate grief for them both became inextricably tangled up together. because i had to be the mistress of ceremonies for Kathy's memorial service, i couldn't really experience the loss properly, as my whole job was to keep it together so other people could fall apart. (yeah, i know, my default mode.)
but anyway, it's just been recently that i have tried to start working through the knotwork of Kathy's death. as i said, she was hugely influential in my early career, and she inspired me by example to pursue being a spirited, happy, independent, adventurous woman who drew strength from her faith and her community. she was full of life and compassion, and no one expected her -- of all people! to be taken so swiftly and without warning. it was a horrible shock when she was killed.
but someone -- i think one of her best friends -- said at her memorial service: "what if Kathy's life's purpose had be served? what if all she was here to do had been done? and so she could go?" "now," said the speaker, "no one here may agree that it was time for her to go because we all still want her in our lives. but even if it is cruel for us and we will miss her more in the coming months than we even know today, perhaps there is some comfort in thinking that she left life with a purpose fulfilled."
and so i have been thinking: what if Isabela Eva had a purpose and she needed only 10 weeks of life to accomplish it? if so, what is that purpose? and am i fully exploring the growth i am to have from it? already she has brought to me a community of support and love from both expected and unexpected places. she has facilitated what i hope will be a more authentic relationship with my family. she has shown me how resilient i am, and how strong my marriage actually is. she has let me see the incredible strength and character of her father, my husband. and she has shown me that indeed, the love and compassion of the God i follow is very very strong, and always close.
perhaps this way of thinking, which is some comfort now, will not always be so. but for now, as i try to ignore the ache of empty arms, it brings some semblance of order and blessing to me and makes me take inventory of all that there is to be grateful for. and it helps me think of Isabela as a real part of my ongoing life, not someone i will have to leave behind in hazy memory.
besides, i know Kathy would tell me to stand strong and honest and keep living fully and loving more. and then, with a hug, she'd say "suck it up and smile, girl!"
i will -- but i still miss them.