An entire year — 365 days, twelve months, four seasons –has passed since one of my best friends, Rachel, suddenly left this earth.
I’ve dreaded this day for so long. April 1 is April Fool’s Day — a day for silly pranks and jokes — and I will always now equate it with the day Rachel died.
I’d texted back and forth with her early that morning on her way to the hospital, wishing her a speedy procedure and recovery, and she assured me she’d let me know when she was done.
But when I hadn’t heard from her three hours later, I got worried, and shot her a quick text, figuring she must just be groggy from the anesthesia. About an hour later I tried again, but my text remained unanswered.
Around 1:30, her husband called and asked me if I was sitting down. I raced from my desk to a little enclave in the office, where– as I sat down — he told me she had died during the procedure earlier than morning; that they thought it was a blood clot. I just remember screaming and begging him to tell me it was some sick April Fool’s joke, but deep down I knew no one would be that cruel.
I just couldn’t believe it. We had just spoken!
I’ve missed her each and every day since then. The grief ebbs and flows. And it’s all bittersweet. Like when I saw her son at school two weeks ago, beaming as he got off the Tumble Bus with a very special ribbon affixed to his shirt. As I texted her husband and her mom a photo of the proud gymnast — from whom I scored a hug!– I couldn’t help but think, “She should be doing this. Not me.”
It both broke my heart and also made me happy that I can watch him grow up — even if from a distance.
And then recently I ran into her dad at the grocery store and we had a happy/cry/chuckle because I told him that in the early days of our friendship, I used to bump into Rachel at Target. I felt like she was guiding our paths that day.
I find both joy and sadness (thanks, Inside Out!) when I look at our photos. In less than three years, we made so many amazing memories together. Like this wild night out on the town — cowgirl themed for Meg’s birthday!
Or like this … our Zumba girls, 6 weeks after Ben was born and I had gotten the green light to return to class. I got right back up front, next to my partner in crime … and we laughed and danced … and the world was well. (And for the record, I miss her adorable gray hat!)
Rachel was such an upbeat person in spite of all her challenges — and she truly lived her life to the fullest. An amazing woman; to know her was to love her.
I miss so much about her: her compassion, her unwavering support, her smile, her laugh, her chronic lateness, her hilarious stories about said lateness, her amazing dance moves, her complete adoration for her family, her passion for her work, her perseverance. I miss our daily texts and emails about everything and nothing and in between. I miss our gym sessions–pushing each other to be stronger, fitter. I miss our lunch dates. I miss her advice, her counsel. I miss our GNOs. I miss our shared love of lulu and peanut butter and Yopa and our kids.
The world hasn’t been the same since she left it. And I just can’t believe that it’s been a whole year without her.
This quote has helped me cope:
Good friends are like stars: you can’t always see them, but you know they are there.
Love you, Rach. And miss you SO much. (Photo from our last lunch date, two weeks to the day before she passed, snapped at our favorite lunch spot).