February 2, 2016

A heavy heart

Last weekend we got around 2 feet of snow. Two feet of lovely, white, soft snow blanketed the oddly blooming plants from previous warm spells. It shut down streets, towns, businesses. It gave us rules: don't go out unless you have to; be with your family; take care of the young and elderly. I followed the rules, but as usual, felt a little stir crazy- like I wanted to get out but there was no way. The snow, unpredictable, heavy, and totally out of my control, was here. It swept in quickly, winds whipping, and left gently, a bright soft sunshine filtering in the next day.

And that's exactly how my heart and my mind felt. Heavy, out of control, and searching for that soft sunlight at the end. Four days before, I lost a friend. The day unfolded in a manner that still shocks me. From a quick facebook message, to a text, to my mom doing what she does best and swooping in to watch the girls while I rushed to the hospital, hair unwashed, frazzled to say goodbye to Tracey. She went downhill so quickly, but I like to think that there was some purpose in that. That her children, who saw her Sunday smiling, never had to witness the intense pain or the fading. I left the hospital Tuesday afternoon after holding her hand, telling her what she meant to me, and squeezing her sweet husband another time. By evening, she was gone.

The weather turned cold, the snow was on its way. Her funeral was planned for Sunday. It was almost as if, the weather and the world were reminding me of these cycles- of the bad, the good, the light that comes again. Sunday morning I knew the roads might be riddled with icey patches, snow drifts, and folks even more stir crazy than me vying to get out of their houses. But as the sun rose in the sky, and the flakes started to melt, I got in the car and went to honor Tracey's life. The almost blindingly sunny day reminded me- she's at peace now. Her pain, like the snow storm, was unfair and out of my control. But the glow of new light was enough. Enough to get me through.
That doesn't mean Tracey hasn't crossed my mind every day since then. I met Tracey during grad school, where she was two years behind me, quiet, and kind. I always listened when she talked because if she was saying something - it was well planned and heartfelt. I was lucky that fate landed us in the same working environment by the time she was a resident. And from there, we ended up friends who grew closer and confided in each other.  Our daily morning conversations made me laugh. One of us was always running late and texting the other to open the back door. When I returned from maternity leave after having Piper, she gave me her Tracey smile, and reminded me it would be okay. She was a fierce mom- and sometimes I think people who didn't know her well, didn't quite get that. She loved those kids (and Phillip) to the point their hearts might burst open. One morning, she was tired, and when I asked what was going on she laughed and said, "Oh you know, just had Lily sleep in the bouncy seat on the floor while I bounced her with my foot and let Jack sleep next to me on the couch last night... because I guess he was lonely?" She was the kind of friend I never once felt judged around. If I messed up, she waved it off. If I did something well, she told me I was amazing. People like Tracey are true rare gems. She never had to be showy, or have the attention. She just quietly was successful, loyal, and kind.

It's still not fair. To lose a friend. To feel the intense pain. For her kids to not have their mama there to hug them, though I know Tracey's amazingly sweet family will love and cherish them and show them pictures and videos and make her legacy strong. But there is some light, the sun is shining again. I am reminded that she was a believer- and as I listened to the song, "When I get where I'm going" (thanks Brad Paisley, you do no wrong), it brought tears to my eyes.  I hope my friend is at peace, and that as the days go by my memories of her remain. Her lifetime was a gift- and she taught me invaluable things- to put my kids and family before work, to shrug it off when people judge what I do if I know in my heart it's the right decision, and to be kind to everyone you come in contact with.

I'll miss you, Tracey- I hope you're up there dancing in the sunlight.

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