I climbed back under the covers and let my thoughts go back to where they have been for a week now.......
Last Monday evening, I was at work and busy on the floor. I could see that one of my sons had called my phone but it's difficult to answer when I'm working. Over the course of the next half hour/hour or so I saw several other calls, and some texts had hit but I hadn't looked at any of them.
Splenda walked in and the minute I saw his face, I knew something was up. He was emotional and the words didn't come out for him. I pulled us in a dressing room, and pleaded for him to tell me what the crap was going on. I wasn't prepared.
Our neighbor, ward sister, and my good friend Tracy, had been found dead in her car a few hours earlier. Splenda knew that people would start calling me and he wanted to be the first to tell me. I don't think I care for that particular dressing room any more since it now represents hurt and shock.
My immediate thoughts went to her husband. We have been family friends for so long and have a long history together with our sons. My heart hurt so badly for him. And then, I thought of her son. The boy that was counted as one of my own on many of occasion and loved as such. From there, my thoughts went to her daughter. She's one of my young women and we've had a bond that is hard to describe. After that, various thoughts flooded my mind. Her parents (who lost another daughter 3 years prior to a horrible tragedy), her in-laws who also are our neighbors and friends, all the rest of my young women who would undoubtedly be distraught and then to my own boys who needed to be told that one of their very best friend's mom was now gone. A woman who had been a mom to them as well. From there, in my minds eye, I could see everyone in my neighborhood and ward family and the pain and grief everyone would be feeling. She was so beloved.
(she was a "ma" to many of our youth!)
Tracy was just 42. Last Monday was a normal day......getting ready for work. Damon left first with his usual kiss goodbye, I love you, have a good day. You know, those things that we say when we leave for the day. As he left his house, I am sure he had no idea what he was going to come home to. And that in an instant his entire life was completely changed.
Over the course of the past seven days, there has been a lot of soul searching, a lot of inward thinking and a lot of clear perspective shoved in my face.
When we lost Rob, The pain was no less difficult. We hurt then just as much as we do now. Even with the months we had to prepare and know that it was coming, it still hurt. It was still a strong slap upthesidethehead. I thought after that, I had really made some changes in my life and relationships and would be prepared for anything.
I was wrong.
The sudden and totally unexpected loss of Tracy slapped the other side of my face. It is times like this that I understand the anguished cries of "WHY?" What purpose could this possibly serve? Her death was not the cause of someone else's poor choice. It wasn't that her body became ill and shut down. She simply just passed. She was young. She still had Chelsea at home. Did I mention that she was young? Just as with losing Rob, the feeling of "this just isn't right" is overwhelming.
The week has been spent consoling one another. Support, encouragement, and love expressed within our ward family and our neighborhood, and even more important - in our homes. Without exception, every family I know that has been touched by the Martin's and their loss have expressed how much more they appreciate time with their families and more importantly are expressing it vocally.
So here I sit on a gloomy Monday and find myself thinking about the past week. The tears, the hugs, the questions........ but what stands out the most is the LOVE. Unabashed displays of love and affection for and among everyone. So sad that it takes a loss like this to slam that home again. Why does it? Why do we allow ourselves to get complacent when it comes to expressions of love and gratitude for and to other people? I'm shaking my head and wondering. What if today is REALLY the last day we see a coworker, a friend, a family member? What would our last words have been? Would we be able to lie down at night and know that we hadn't missed an opportunity to love them?
For me? No regrets. Not ever. If it takes an extra couple of keystrokes in an email or text. A few extra seconds at the door, another minute on the phone, whatever it takes, I am motivated to be more clear with how much I love others. Luckily for me, love comes easily. Affection is simple and natural. It's rare to find someone I don't like and/or can't express love to. I consider myself blessed for that. Yet, I know that for others, it's a huge challenge. It's not second nature or even third or fourth for that matter, but I implore you to self search and see where you can improve in that one little area.
It's not asking anyone to quit smoking, or stop drinking so much, start dieting, lose 20 pounds, run a marathon or any other very hard challenge. It's simply asking that if you care about someone, love someone, appreciate someone....that you show it by word and deed. Practice saying "love you" in front of the mirror if you have to so that it comes naturally. Whatever it takes, do it.
You never know when in literally the blink of an eye, your entire world will be shaken upside down. You'll get through the loss if that's what's called for. You'll make it. But you'll have an extra measure of peace if you know you expressed all the love you possibly could.
Finally, I've posted before about my religious beliefs and that of an afterlife with our loved ones. So to me, death is a temporary separation. Does that make it any easier? Some days, hell no. But in the eternal perspective, it does allow a grieving soul to keep taking one step after another. The knowledge that we will be with our families forever is the one steady comfort that no number of flowers, cards or meals can ever replace.
So to my friends Damon, Chris, Erin and Chels - I love you more than the sea. Hopefully, you already know that, (and if you don't, then by damn I will work harder).
Prayers for peace, comfort and perspective are given for you.
PS - Y A S L to you my Chelsea
PPS - Bad things come in three's. A co worker recently mentioned that it might not be a very good idea to be my friend. You've been warned and in the same breath - I am saying "I Love You"