Usually on Mondays I reflect on my weekend but this week I have something far more important. This passed week has been incredibly challenging not only for me but for my family, friends and loved ones as we said goodbye to our dear and beautiful friend Jackie who left us WAY too soon.
It still doesn’t feel real.
With respect to Jackie and her family, I will not discuss the details of what happened. All I ask is that you send prayers and love to them as you read this.
Last night I was trying to shift my mindset to the happy times I shared with her and the love that she brought to every friendship she had. Something got in the way of this, though and made me feel uncomfortable and it is something I’ve heard far too often this week and it deeply disturbs me.
I cannot tell you how many people have told me, while consoling me, mind you, that occurrences like this are “a part of life”.
For the past week I have let people say this to me and I have absorbed it, but last night, after saying my final goodbyes I thought about this comment.
Death in and of itself is a part of life. Yes, I understand that…I’m not sure that I have fully come to accept that, but I understand it. It will happen to all of us. Part of life. I have lost my grandfather, my aunt, and several other family members who lived incredible long lives full of love, family and stories that will last on for generations. Part of life.
However, I am unwilling to acknowledge the loss of my 24 year old friend as a “part of life”. When one refers to something as such, one is normalizing that occurrence. If something is a “part of life” then doesn’t that mean everyone experiences it? Doesn’t that make it something that we, on some level, prepare for? Doesn’t that make it something that we address and simply move on from because at the end of the day we can say, “well, that happens”. Is it just me or is referring to something as a “part of life” no different than saying “shit happens”?
Because that’s how I feel when you tell me that this situation is a “part of life”. I have thought deeply about this and I can confidently say that a tragic event like this is most certainly not a “part of life”. Something like this is a tragedy, a DEVASTATION, something that NO ONE comes prepared for, something that no one can even fathom. No, this is most certainly not a part of life. It happens, yes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to accept it as being something that everyone just deals with.
We prepare ourselves for old age. We prepare ourselves for the aging of our loved ones. We prepare ourselves to have to say goodbye to those who came before us at some point. Part of life.
Some things, however, are tragic twists of fate that no one can prepare for. Losing a friend when they are so young, so beautiful, so full of light, love and life, someone with the entire world ahead of her…that is not a part of life. Losing a child is not a part of life. Losing a grandchild is not a part of life. Losing anyone in something so tragic, so unexpected, is simply not a part of life. This is not something we prepare for, this is not something that comes with a manual for how to cope. There is no word in existence to define the situation of losing a child, this is not something we ever anticipate coping with.
So I’m not sorry in the least bit when I say that this is not a part of life and shame on you for telling me or anyone that it is. If that’s what you have to say to comfort someone then your most comforting words are no words at all.
Jackie was a part of my life, a part of so many people’s lives because she was so kind, so warm, and such a wonderful friend. Her loss is a devastation that will take a great deal of time to comprehend and mourn. She will always be us all and her memory will live on in our hearts and mind forever because we refuse to ever let her go.
Hug your friends, family and anyone you love and tell them exactly how much they mean to you.