My friend died early this morning, long after midnight and long before dawn. She waged a fierce battle against the cancer that ultimately won. She had been in the hospital for 3 weeks and the night before she died she told her husband that she wanted to go home. That can be interpreted a couple of different ways, I said to him,when I went to the hospital to say goodbye to her. His eyes smiled through the sorrow that veiled them.

Some people have many roles in this life. Mary was a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a wife and a devoted friend. She was in many ways a mother-figure to me; I was unofficially “adopted” into the family and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Death always surprises us. Even when we know it’s imminent, it still manages to shock us. It wrestles our hearts into submission and drives us to our knees…which is actually not the worst place to be. We tend to look up then — in grief, in heartbreak, in wonder, and with a hushed reverence for all that we don’t know and aren’t meant to know. Why are some people taken too soon and others linger? What do we do with the emptiness left behind when a life that was vibrant and present is gone? There is a stillness to grief, a place beyond tears where we go to rest, where we lie down beside memories and the questions that have no answers. That place is one of the gifts left to us by the person who has moved on.

When we lose a loved one, it feels like the pain will never end. But it does. One day we breathe through it and it suddenly feels porous and moveable. When we lose a loved one, it seems like life will never be the same. In some ways that’s true. But when someone has set up residence in your heart, when they have soothed you, made you laugh through tears, and persevere through hardships — all things that my friend Mary did — they have profoundly changed your life, and those changes endure. Death doesn’t take away what someone has left behind in this world.

We aren’t the same after someone we love dies. We are sadder, but also softer, more reflective, and filled with gratitude that another life melted into ours and left us with a better understanding of what love is. To leave behind love in this world is to have lived life fully, completely, and deeply. Rest in peace, Mary.

9 Responses to WHEN A FRIEND DIES

  1. MARCUS BARONE says:

    With heart felt and deepest sympathy Patti. I lost my mom in May and the emptiness comes and goes, manifesting itself in hidden ways… You described it perfectly.. Rest in peace to your friend MARY

  2. Nancy StoutBEA says:


  3. Linda Ercoli says:

    I’m so sorry for your lists, Patti. Your heartfelt words honor your friend.

  4. Jerri Hemsworth says:

    Oh Patti… I can’t describe how much your writing moves me and leaves me in wonder. Thank you!

  5. Russell D says:

    Another life melted into ours…well stated and so true…I have had friends who have passed but left their friends to carry on with the good…

  6. Denise Baer says:

    Beautifully said. My condolences to you and Mary’s family. God blessed all of you with her life and the memories.

  7. Tirdad Gharib says:

    Good Day Dear Patti! My heart is very sad for you and the loss of your very close friend Mary! My Deep Condolences to you and Mary`s family! Rest in Peace to your dear Friend Mary! you write so beautiful Patti and thank you for sharing!and My Deep respect and i will lit up a candle for your dear friend Mary! Very sincerlly yours God Bless Tirdad.

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