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Less Alone

Sometimes these entries have their start in the stray sentence I've written to someone in e-mail. That's the case today. I have told several people that my grief over my friend Debbie's death hurt worse than any death significant to me since my own mother's, four years ago. I spent some time pondering that, and I think I've figured out at least part of why that's the case. It's that in some wonderful ways, she mothered me, too. Never mind that she and I were pretty close in age. She was really good at being a mother, so say her children. And when I needed some motherly nurturing, she gave it. It was never intrusive. It was wonderful. It made me feel less alone.

After my mother died, I was alone in very many ways. My father died when I was quite young. Not only am I single, I'm an only child. With Mother's death, all my immediate family was gone.

I had lived on my own for years before Mother's death, but we had been in touch frequently enough that we each knew the events of the other's life. Even the mundane things. And we always made sure to say "I love you" to each other when we talked. We both knew we were loved.

During her illness (she had three strokes over a six-and-a-half-year span), I spent quite a bit of time with her. And in some ways, I became her mother. That was especially true after the second stroke, which left her with expressive aphasia. In case you aren't familiar with this, it's that the stroke victim can talk, but often the wrong words are used. (Another time I will write more about that.) Even though her speech wasn't always right, her hugs were.

So after her death I was largely alone, at least in earthly ways. But, as Alain Draeger said, "...loved ones don't vanish with death; they become invisible, but their shadows go on falling upon the living, waiting to continue the dialogue."

And sometimes people help us cast some light on those shadows, so that the dialogue can continue. Several people did that for me, right after my mother's death. And people have helped me and helped me help Debbie's family, in the wake of hers.

One of the people who has helped, in part by providing me with some lovely quotes, including the one above, is Bev Sykes. She knows grief firsthand, and continues her dialogues with those she has loved on earth in some wonderful ways. She writes eloquently of them in her journal, and in letting us have glimpses, she shares these people with us. Bev is one of the most sharing people I know of; she does a lot of volunteer work one-on-one with people who need, among other things, someone who will listen with an open heart. I've read enough of her journal to be sure they have found just that in her. And I thank her for sharing the quotes. I'm sharing them with Debbie's family when I write.

Text © copyright 2000 Becky