One of my best friends died last Friday. When I say friend, I don’t mean the “girlfriend” type of friend, more the “mom away from mom and grandmother type figure to my kids” kind of friend. Needless to say I am still reeling, as are all of the other people who knew her and loved her. Even though we all knew she was not well, somehow it was not expected, and there is a grand canyon sized hole left by her passing. I have known her as long as I have known my husband, and without her advice and support our family would look a whole lot different than it does today.

A mutual friend called us Friday morning to let us know that she was gone. We were in the process of packing up for a weekend away. The children, thankfully, were already in the minivan, so they didn’t hear the shock and confusion of my responses over the phone. I held it together until we were hurtling down the freeway, though I did insist that my husband drive. He is my rock in times like these. I sat in the passenger seat and wept as quietly as I could, overcome by grief, but not wanting to worry the children.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at a park, and while Daddy went to supervise the twins, the child and I were finishing our food. I ate purely by numb habit. Through my fog I realized that this was my chance to try to explain to the child. This is not her first brush with death, but I think it is the person closest to her who has died. I told her that I needed to tell her something very sad and asked her if she wanted to know now or later. She said now. Then I told her as calmly as possible that Grandma C. died. She asked if that meant she was in Heaven now, and I said yes. She asked a couple of other very pragmatic questions, and I told her that Mommy might be very sad for a while because I loved Grandma C. so much. After we talked a couple more minutes she was ready to go play, and as she ran off my own tears came again. It’s hard to know how much she understands or feels about this.

In the days since we have talked about Grandma C. more, always circling back to her being in Heaven and that we will see her again when we get there. I look forward to seeing them together again there…until then…

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