A young mother from our small community passed away due to complications from a routine surgery this week. Gone. She was 38yrs old, healthy, had two children, a husband, her own business. Her name was Lori and I although didn’t know her super well, I knew her enough to occasionally work out with her if we found ourselves at the squat rack together where we’d quietly discuss school stuff and high level life in general. We’d wave when we passed each other driving and we’d see each other at mutual friend’s houses. We were friendly, but we weren’t girlfriends and that’s ok.
Given that we weren’t close I initially felt embarrassed at how profoundly the news of her death rocked me. I felt like I didn’t deserve to mourn for her. Certainly some of my friends knew her way better than me, they had lived here longer, had gone to costume parties with her, served on the PTO with her, hosted a jewelry party for her, went to her church. They knew her better. They deserved to mourn for her. I didn’t feel like I had that right. But I’m so, so sad.
She could have been me.
And that’s it, right? The sorrow we feel for this vibrant young woman who was at the same stage in life as us, is about a sisterhood that no one really thinks about and no one really talks about but it’s there and it’s primal. Woman. Mother. Wife. This deep sorrow that so many of us are feeling is not only for the tragic loss of her life, but the gaping hole she has left in the live’s of her family. In imagining how they will continue on without her, I’m imagining how my family would cope if it was me. You are thinking the same, I’ll bet. She was the mother, a wife, a sister, daughter – so many important roles that we also hold, and she is leaving behind so many people who depended on her. How will her daughter ever recover from the loss of her mother? Who will buy bra’s and talk about love and sex and all that personal mother-daughter stuff? How will her son learn all the important lessons she hadn’t taught him yet? How will her husband carry on without her at his side, doing all of the things she did to keep the family running while he commuted each week? And then I think…….how would my daughter ever recover from the loss of me? How would my son cope? How would Dub carry on? The thought is just awful and the pain it brings to my heart is a fraction of what Lori’s poor family is feeling right now.
Empathy. “She” could have been “Me”.
It doesn’t matter if we know someone well or in passing, the pain we feel when a fellow mother, wife, neighbor passes resonates and sends shock waves. We all put ourselves in her shoes, we hurt for her babies, her husband, her family. We come together and lean in, just as we would if we were best friends. We are the “Outer Circle” and we are there to quietly do the little things to free the “Inner Circle” up to grieve and take care of her family. We drop the meals off in the cooler on our assigned night, pick up groceries, walk the dog, mow the lawn and do the mundane things that need to be done. We do whatever it takes and we do it willingly and without any fuss. Our grief is real and it’s coming from empathy. We feel terribly sad. Our hearts hurt. We do these things to show we care. To do something. And we know that if it was “us” and not “her” she’d be doing the exact same thing.
Lori, we are here. We are watching. We are praying for your babies, your husband, your family. We are the Outer Circle and we are leaning in. May God hold your hand, girl. #liftasisterup