A very dear friend of mine is losing her dad to cancer. Unfortunately, for me this is a scenario that is very familiar and still very fresh in my memory.
I have wracked my brain trying to think of a way to make it somehow a little easier. But it didn't take me long to realize that there really is nothing I can do except be there if she needs me and try to meet her needs before she knows she has them.
When my dad died three years ago I was a complete and total wreck. For someone that prides herself on always being together and somewhat in control I was in uncharted territory. I was in such a state of sheer and utter grief that I could barely function. In a mere thirteen days I had gone from hearing the diagnosis to picking out a casket. The pain was so great that I was sure my heart would just stop at any moment.
Then my angel like friends stepped in and took over. One friend came and stayed with me in my hotel room and organized what had become my life over the last few weeks. She gathered clothes, packed my suitcase for the trip to Tennessee and was just there.
Another friend drove all the way down to Indiana and did my laundry in a small hotel laundry room. It turns out that you still need clean underwear no matter how grief stricken you are.
In the months that followed, another dear friend called me every single day. There were days that I was so involved in my grief that I couldn't answer the phone but she would leave a message. As time passed I could muster up the courage to answer and just hearing her say "Hey, just wanted to make sure you were o.k." would give me the boost to get out of bed.
At the funeral a friend from high school brought a St. Christopher medal that my dad had given her for graduation. He had apparently told her that if she was going to continue hanging out with me she was going to need it. Standing by the casket she placed it around my daughter's neck and that is where it has been for the last three years.
Another friend from high school showed up and stood beside be as we buried my dad. The love of her and her family sustained me through my grief and through my divorce that followed.
Last but not least, there were all the wonderful people that came to the two funerals. I will never forget all of them showing up and sharing stories about what a great man my dad was. Never, ever underestimate the impact of showing up to acknowledge someone's life.
So tonight as I was feeling utterly helpless, I realized that there are ways to help. Each one of my friends stepped in and just met the need I had. Sometimes just knowing that you are loved and that you are not alone in your pain can be life saving. I know it was for me.
So from one daddy's girl to another, I will be there for Sonya. Somehow I will find a way to make all this just a little bit easier.