I lost a friend last week. I got a message asking if "I had heard the sad news about Keren?" I quickly went to her Facebook page and saw posts saying things like I will always miss you, You will always be a light in our lives, We will meet again, etc. I was devastated. Tears streamed from my face as I thought that Keren had met some untimely death due to cancer or some such illness that takes life quickly from someone you love. I even had a moment of "Why didn't she tell me?" What I found out just moments later, was that Keren had taken her own life. She suffered for many years from chronic intestinal inflammation and got to a place where she just couldn't handle the pain anymore. My heart is heavy knowing how much pain she was in and how she thought that death was her only relief.
Yesterday there was a memorial service for Keren. I couldn't get a sitter for both boys and ended up having to bring Elijah with me. Since it was at a residence, there were many people with their young babies with them. When I walked in, there was a book on the entry table for everyone to write notes to Keren in. My note was lame. Really...I probably made an inappropriate joke, and the reality is that someone (other than Keren) will read these notes and most likely think, How tacky. Can't you write something sentimental? But it was what I thought at the time. It was what I know Keren would have laughed at and agreed with. Besides, what do you really say? There is no perfect thing. As I lifted my eyes from the book, I noticed some snapshots scattered on the table. The one just in front of me was a picture of just her and I. I lost it. We looked so young and so innocent. So blind to what the world is.
Keren and I met in 1994. She was friends with some of my (now) exes friends and we hit it off immediately. Our friendship spanned three marriages (mine, hers, mine again), two divorces (mine, then hers), finding ourselves, countless jobs, apartment living to condo purchasing to buying a house, the death of a pet and everything in between. I considered Keren part of my "Rock". My Rock is the small group of girlfriends who I trust with my life. The ones that have been through the best and hardest parts of my life. The ones that have never judged me. The ones that have been a shoulder to cry on and a hand to grab when you're laughing so hard you think you might actually pee your pants. The ones who I have never, NEVER had to doubt. Not for one second.
Three of my "Rock":
(From left to right: Me, Kristi, Keren, and Larissa)
Last night at her memorial service I had hoped to have an opportunity to celebrate her life, to reminisce about who she was and what she loved, and to try to understand why her life would end so young. I had hoped to begin to process the end of that life. Unfortunately, it was none of that for me. After an hour and 40 minutes of no eulogy, no speeches, no ceremony of any kind, I grew impatient and tired of the chit chat (that mostly had nothing to do with Keren) and excused myself by saying that I had to get Elijah to bed. Mostly, I just didn't want that. Chit chat. About nothing. I wanted to grieve. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to honor her life.
Apparently, there was a memorial service, eulogy and some stories after I left last night- which is a complete bummer to have missed. So, I'm left having to grieve on my own. I decided to write something, since it has been my most successful form of processing. I decided to write a letter. It won't be perfect, or eloquent, or "say the right thing", but since there is no perfect thing to say, I'm going to say something anyway:
I am so sad to lose you from this life. My heart is so heavy that you were in so much pain. I remember how you used to cry when you went through your first bout of your intestinal inflammation...how you couldn't even sleep...how painful it was for you. I felt so helpless. But, the first thing you should know is that I am not judging you. I know how much you hated judgemental people and how much you would double check with me and other friends that we weren't judging. So, I am not judging you. I am simply sad that you felt that this was the only way out.
I want to thank you for being such a loyal, supportive, loving friend for so many years. I can't believe how much we went through together, and how much we grew up together. I will always cherish our hiking days. I loved our standing dates at Tree People to hike, talk and take in the sounds and smells of nature. When my relationship in my 20s was a complete nightmare, you never told me you were sick of hearing about it--you just listened and then told me what a jerk he was (haha..which was always exactly what I needed to hear at the time.) Then, when I was back in "love", you accepted that too, with open arms. No one is like you. I don't know if you realize how full of life you were. You might have been more full of life than anyone else I've known. Even though I know you were trying to "find yourself" after your divorce, I always secretly loved that you'd just take off at a moment's notice to travel the world and meet some "stallion" of a man that would help distract you from whatever was bothering you. I loved that you loved food. And I'm so sorry that your condition made it so painful for you to eat. Last night at your memorial, there was food from Carnivale- one of your favorite restaurants. I know you must have been loving that. Even Elijah thought the Babaganoush was delicious!
You know, you were really on my mind just a few days before I learned of your death. In fact, I visited your Facebook page and looked around a bit. I intended to leave you a message...but I got distracted and hadn't thought of just the right thing to say. I wish I simply would have said, "I love you. Thinking of you. Your friend, Jen". I am having a hard time because if I would have known that I would only have this much time on earth with you, I would have packed in more dates, more dinner parties, more surprise parties, more sushi, more Pita Kitchen, more hikes and more hugs. But, I also know deep in my heart that if you were here, you would say to me, Please don't worry, Jen. I know you love me and you know I love you.
I will miss you always. I will remember you always. I danced for you tonight in ballet class. I thought I would cry, but instead I smiled. I really smiled. I hope you are at peace now, my friend. I am glad you are no longer in pain. You were a blessing in my life.
Your friend forever,