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Thin Skin

December 8, 2011

My friend’s husband is sick.  My bubbly, generous, big sisterish friend.  The one who has dead-on style and a great sense of humour.  She went to art school and has travelled so many places I can’t remember them all.  Her home is more visually appealing than any art gallery I’ve ever seen: a brilliant mixture of thrift store finds, photos of her travels and beautiful children, and their art.  I feel hip and hilarious hanging out with her, like a teenager again with the world by the tail.  Only today her smile was gone, and we acted our age as we discussed her family’s predicament, and their options.

My heart aches and I feel so helpless.   As she talks about how hard it’s going to be to enjoy Christmas this year her face looks like she’s trying to swallow something bitter.  All I can do is hug her a little harder, a little longer, when we say goodbye.

The news seems even more cruel given that yesterday another friend lost a loved one to cancer.  A young man died who spent much of his life with the disease, trying to figure out how to date, hold down a job, and live in a world where others expect to be around for a while but he didn’t know that for sure.  My thoughts go farther afield to other families who are spending their first Christmas without a husband, son, or brother.

Is life always this fragile, I wonder, but the holidays are a backdrop of high expectations that makes these reminders of our impermanence even more devastating?  We’re approaching the darkest, coldest day of the year, and we will celebrate, even in the middle of pain and loss.  The pain will reverberate through the community but the ties that join us will strengthen and hold.

I look at pictures my friends share of their littles growing up.  Children whose trust in the world is still unbroken.  Their purpose, their driving passion is undiscovered yet is also already there when we slow down to notice.  My friend’s children have her laughter, enthusiasm, creativity and will.  I feel these losses in our community like a physical pain, but the salve is being reminded of what’s really important.  While we’re reminded of our mortality we can look into our children’s faces and know that life goes on, imperfect, unpredictable, but beautiful.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2011 10:45 am

    Beautiful and oh so true post. I share the thin skin and pain and send love to you! xo

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