Death and I are reaching familiar terms. (We have not, however, reached any kind of understanding.)
Eventually, I’ll be at a social function and catch a glimpse of the black robed figure with a scythe, hanging out in the back corner, waiting.
And I’ll totally walk up and blow his cover. “Yo, Death, who’d you pick this time?”
And if I really grow a pair, I might follow that up with, “and how close are they to me this time? Because, you know, every time I lose someone close to me, my own heart gets a chunk blown off of it, and let’s face it; there isn’t much left.”
And I really wonder what Death would say to me, especially after yesterday. Maybe the moral of the story is, “never check Facebook”. Or maybe it’s, “pay more attention on Facebook.”
Because, after all, Lainey had not posted in four days. I had the foresight to set her Facebook posts to show up in my Notifications so that every time she posted, I would be alerted. I did not have the insight to wonder what was wrong when her posts suddenly dropped from about 25-50% of my total notifications to nothing at all. I did end up wandering over to her Facebook page, to see what she was up to lately.
That’s when I saw it. Well, I thought I saw it; I had to read and re-read what people were posting just to be sure that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. (My reading abilities are no problem, but my reading comprehension comes up a little short.) I was stunned. I started shaking. This couldn’t be. Surely, someone was jesting.
I scrolled down her Facebook profile. I looked for her posts. There was nothing; every post was written by someone else. Expressing their shock. Sending their condolences. Saying their prayers.
Since she touched so many people, who in turn had so much to say, the posts seemed to go on forever. I kept scrolling and finally, I saw the last post she had made: an article about “The Dangers of Microbeads”. And the one before that? “10 Ways To Begin Well”, a “good take on resolutions”, she described. Yeah, well that was January 11th.
January 12th was a different story. It was like reading “The Diary of Anne Frank”; her posts. Just. Stopped.
Her absence left a vacuum that was filled, with mercy and desperation, by the outpouring of love, concern, memory, and grief of those close to her, most of them closer to her than I, for which they were lucky, and I’m left longing.
I scrolled back up her Facebook wall; each additional post and comment was like another bullet into my chest. Because each post was yet another piece of evidence that she was really gone. I could not imagine or rationalize this away. There were no Facebook glitches, flukes, or April Fool’s Day joke hypotheses left.
The other shoe had dropped.
In the middle of the previous decade, we weathered three deaths in relatively rapid succession–about 6 months. Then, last year, my partner and I lost 2 dear souls, also in rapid succession. Since then, I have walked on eggshells, wondering if there would again be a third, and if so, who would draw the short straw.
I never expected it to be Lainey. After all, she didn’t appear to be in decline, she was younger than my parents (who are not elderly), she had no vices, she was well-versed in many natural healing methods, and so on. There was just no reason to think that they’d be drawing her number.
Always the seeker of silver lining, no matter how thinly stitched, I can find comfort and gratitude in the fact that her passing wasn’t violent, angry, painful, or similarly traumatic. It was also not prolonged, the result of an excruciating decline. She did not die alone, cold, hungry, injured, or abandoned. She was not paralyzed or vegetative. And I found out days later instead of months later.
I am also thankful for the support of those close to me. My lovely friend was there when I practically screamed; my mom called me as soon as she found out; my partner put Humpty-Dumpty back together again with acupuncture (there are actually points for grief itself!); my lovely friend donated her hand to my unrelenting clutches while I cried and twitched and breathed hard for half an hour; both gave me long hugs; my Mom gave me the most sincere verbal hug on the phone; my counselor was able to fit me in for an appointment today. Healing seems impossible but it always comes with time, and it helps that all the ingredients are there.
And with any luck, since deaths in my life seem to come in 3’s, that shoe has dropped, which means that maybe, just maybe, the rest of those close to me are safe, at least for a while.
LMG, I have always loved you. I will always love you, and now I will also always miss you.
And yo, Death? Take a sabbatical, will ya?