#Write31Days – Oct 9 – Grief

This story is one that defines so much about me.  It starts with March 21, 1996…

Spring Break
Sophomore year of College
College Station
Best Friends
Weekend full of plans

Then March 22nd…
– phone rings
– “Ang, are you ready to come home?” in a weird tone from my Mom
– a drive that I couldn’t make myself turn down one road and went the long way home
– screaming cry on the porch when my parents told me
– the longest 3 mile ride to her house
– The Dance by Garth Brooks being on the radio
– The reality, this is real. 

My best friend died. 

We grew up together since the 3rd grade.  We got in trouble over MadLibs in elementary school. We played countless hours of pool and the jukebox in her parents game room.  We lamented all things Jr High, High School and College.  We were on the Dance Team together.  Her Dad taught me to two-step. I went to the Rodeo Houston BBQ for the first time with her.  We took road trips. We both lived in the country and at home in college. 

She was gone. 

And, I can also still remember sitting in my Dad’s recliner with our Pastor sitting by me telling me the stages of grief and the reality of my faith setting in.  The things I had believed all my life, were now put to a test that I could have never imagined at 19.  I know lots of people go through extreme grief from a very young age, but this was my first real test.

And it changed me. Forever. 

I don’t do surface relationships well.  I know this to be a result of losing my best friend.  I invest.  I want to know details.  I follow up.  I keep in touch.  I am often disappointed by people who don’t invest the same and have to temper my expectations.  I have to categorize and realize that some people don’t want to be that kind of friend.  Some that you think will be around forever – they are only there for a season.  And, some that seems like forever since you’ve seen them – you pick right back up like it was yesterday. 

But, I take friendships and relationships seriously.  I don’t invest flippantly.  I care deeply.  

This can and has burned me. 

Then October 10th, 2006…10.5 years later…8 years ago tomorrow…my phone rings…her sister said

– she died today.  in a car accident. 

Another one of my best friends.  One I had only known a few years.  But, we had been in Bible Studies and small groups together. She was the friend who was always up for meeting up.  She was spontaneous and last minute.  She had the best laugh and conversations with strangers.  We had meals together regularly.  She and her sister were 2 of my best friends.

She was gone.  My roommate and I loaded up with another friend and we headed to her sister’s house.  We cried.  We figured out arrangements to get her sister home to be with family.  We took care of details late in the evening and spent the night all together in tears, in laughs, in shock and in reality. 

It happened again.  It changed me even further.  But, I still had hope.  Jesus promised me hope in eternity.  In their salvation and mine.  We will be together again one day.  On streets of gold. 

It calls to question for me the things that really matter.  It makes me set boundaries to the things that don’t.  I still have to manage my expectations and disappointment in friendships. But, I can only do what I can do.  These 2 losses are a significant part of my story.  Despite being 2 of the hardest things I’ve dealt with in life, they have made me who I am. I won’t let that change. 

I still can’t listen to The Dance without blinking back tears.  When I hear Amazing Grace I think about that being sung at the funeral and again blink back tears.

Despite the grief, I have hope.  For that I am thankful. 

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