For Sophia: Upon the Sudden Loss of a Friend….

The ancient live oak on our campus, of which we shared a love for...a sense of shared places...a tree under which our children found their footing and grew under our watchful care.

The ancient live oak on our campus, of which we shared a love for…a sense of shared places…a tree under which our children found their footing and grew under our watchful care.

The mysteries of life continue to be just that, unexplainable. As humans we like answers, proof, reasons, and order. When we are met with situations that seem unfair, illogical, seemingly punishing and heartless, some people cry, some shut down, some pray, some talk, some go inward, some reach, and some just get angry. Some of us feel all those things, and we carry on slowly trying to sort out this cloudy soup of emotions so we can swallow what fits into our beliefs and personal experiences. Are there words? Are there reasons? Does it matter?

What IS remarkable, though, is how these mysteries unite us. We are all subject to the human condition. Poets, artists, religious leaders, and philosophers have continued down through the ages to try to ‘make sense’ of the human condition, and yet…so often it all seems senseless. Perhaps, though, in its mystery and senselessness, its purpose is to unite us in our humanness. Can we turn the cruel dark of mystery into a light that shines into our own human lives and grow from the unanswered questions? Perhaps in time; Time the great healer and thief of our precious lives.

I have unexpectedly lost a friend. Her heart stopped in the prime of her life. I can hear what she would say about all of this. It would probably be sarcastic, yet, because of who she was, it would be steeped in wisdom. She was one of kind; able to be humorous and serious, personal and cavalier, pissed off and calm…all at the same time. She had a way about her that made everyone who knew her, feel like they were her closest friend and confidante. In the fifteen years that we have worked together, she watched my child grow from a skinny little five year-old, to an awkward fumbling boy into a promising young man. There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t tell me how much she loved my son. I, in turn, celebrated at the birth of both of her babies and served as their teacher by the time they reached the fourth grade. Just the fears and frustrations we shared about motherhood alone, are too numerous and personal to retell. She was passionate and dedicated in every aspect of her life, but especially about her children.

She was a woman’s woman, not interested in competing and demoralizing other women; only supportive of our mutual challenges. She and I have shared almost every issue in life from the challenges of marriage, to watching our kids, stumble, fall, a get back up again. We’ve respectively argued about teaching methodologies in our working world, and then stopped to share the agonies and defeat of finding a supportive, yet sexy bra. We’ve shared beers together; miseries, triumphs, personal losses, childhood stories, and complications, but we’ve never shared this. THIS was the only fear that both of us mothers only knew that the other always carried with her, but tried not to speak of. It is one of those mysteries that have no answers.

Often, in our quote-ridden social networks we are bombarded by philosophies and altruistic ideas which suggest that if one keeps giving….there will be a return. This woman gave and gave, like so many dedicated teachers. After 15 years of working with the most difficult, complicated students, including countless hours of paper work and problem solving for each special case, she gave up her personal time, dinners with her family, vacations that may have revived her spirit and given her a little rest. She wasn’t a saint. She was human, and so complained, but she carried on with a kind of quiet dedication that is seldom loud enough to be celebrated with awards and shining moments in the sun. She wasn’t a showy, boastful teacher. She was a teacher whose primary interest was not accolades for herself, but the growth of each of her students. She just kept giving. And now that her heart has stopped, her brain unresponsive, her children motherless, at a tender age of development that requires the guidance of a mother, and her organs about to be shared so another can have a second chance at life, what has that ‘ceaseless giving’ ….given her in return?

In our humanness, surely some of us are asking ourselves these questions. Where is the rhyme and the reason? Why should a giver, and those she loved, lose everything? What light from this darkness can serve to guide us all forward?

Perhaps, again, there are no answers except to apply the questions to our own lives and find own place of peace. It is not for ‘one’ to suggest the answers for all of us. It is only for us humans, united as one, to remember this precious woman and what she brought to our individual lives, and to hold tight to our renewed awareness that we are all vulnerable, all just a step away from incomprehensible mysteries, all capable of carrying on with new purpose and awareness, even without her, and certainly because of her.

Sophia, I know we have said it to each other before. Giggling about something naughty, happily throwing kisses after a brief laugh in the hall, embraced in a moment of sorrow, and sending each other off to our blessed summers with a hug and “I love you, girl!” So, again, I’m sending you off for a blessed eternal summer…to rest…to hover over your own children without others tugging at you…with a hug and an ‘I love you, girl!” But I liked to add, thank you for being a significant part of my life. I didn’t know you were that important to me until you stepped away. But, for me, that’s the light that this mystery of your sudden departure has shed on my life, and perhaps that of all of us who work and struggle together. It’s united us in our humanness and moved us to a higher, spiritual place…together. I think we will all look and listen and appreciate each other a little more now.

And Sophia would say, “OMG, Currie, you’re so right! Isn’t life amazing?.…I mean messed up, but still amazing!”
And I’d say, “No, Sophia, life is a complicated, twisted mystery, but YOU, my dear friend, YOU were amazing.”