Since the first time I really understood the phrase ‘death comes in threes’, it’s seemed to hold true for me. In 2016, it even decided to multiply itself by two, giving me six solid months of deaths of people close to me, climaxing in April that year (there were still three more to come after) with the death of my husband. I’ve learned that death is not a singular occurrence in my life but instead a finger poke on the end of a set of upright dominoes.
This time, the topple started in August with one of my oldest friends from childhood and ended last night with a camper from the summer camp I helped run for 29 years. But the domino in the middle is the one that has me perplexed. See, this person is physically still alive. Living, breathing, walking–but through a series of her own confusing and contradictory actions, she’s effectively removed herself from the lives of everyone in her circle, including her parents and children, and no one knows when she’ll return. What I do know is that when and if she does return, she will absolutely not be the same person in the same role, so in essence, the person we knew before will be dead for all intents and purposes.
This isn’t a good or bad thing, it isn’t something I’m assigning a label to, but it has me thinking in so very many different ways. This is a person I felt extremely close to–truly, a sister–we even called ourselves sisters. We knew each other for many years before we grew close over, of all things, my needing someone to practice with when I was learning to read tarot spreads. We encouraged each other to pursue our passions, our creative outlets, and try to spend less time worrying if we were good moms and meeting the standards set by society and people in the external. We called each other at our lowest points, knowing the other would listen, cheer us up, cheer us on, and dry our tears. We ended each of those phone calls and FaceTimes with ‘I Love You’. She was a comfort to me in every single day and, although it appears I misjudged something quite badly, I thought I brought the same to her.
And now I wonder what I actually knew of her, and if it was even the real her. I wonder if she even knew the real her. Isn’t that crazy? To not truly know yourself? We always hear the advice to be kind to others because we don’t know what battles they’re facing, and that’s become a way of life for me. It has to be in my line of work. She was easy to be kind to because she was kind to everyone she met as well, with the now-obvious exclusion of herself.
So I’ll spend time journaling about who I knew, or who I though I knew, and keep a space for processing something I’ve never had to process before. Do I grieve? Do I hope? Do I detach? It’s impossible to know the right course of action.
What I do know is that if she comes back into our lives, I’ll still be one of the people she can count on, however she chooses to grace the world again, because I’m a Taurus and that’s what we do. But in the meantime, I’ll miss the person who, the last time I saw her, had a huge smile and beamed with an energy that made me smile back when she said she was having one of the best days of her life…the day before she left.