Grief Stories~The Letter She Will Never Read

Sometimes I get angry that we couldn't do more to save Joey from his cancer. Sometimes I think we should have tried harder to find someplace that had an answer or a magic drug or at least some hope. But there wasn't any to be had. What if you could do something to save someone, though, and you didn't? What if you held yourself back because you didn't want to believe that it wouldn't be okay?

Today's post is by Kelly of DeBie Hive. Her writing always moves and inspires me. Often controversial, always thought-provoking, I'm so honored that Kelly is sharing her story with us.

My dear friend,
It's been a long while now since the last time I saw your face. It seems like forever since I've heard your infectious laugh, seen the smile that could light up everyone around you.

You were here and then you weren't, and it all happened so suddenly that we were all in shock for quite a long time about it. The questions began almost immediately, but none of them would ever have answers. Not the kind of answers that would ever satisfy what we felt we needed, nothing would ever be enough of a reason for why we had to lose you the way we did when we did.

Death has a way of asking more questions than answering them.
There is a day that I will forever remember as the moment that I had a chance to reach out more than I allowed. That day haunts me still, and I know that if you were here you would be the first to tell me that there wasn't anything I could have done or said that day that would have changed things, though there is a piece of my heart that would give anything for that moment back.

We stood at the edge of the grassy field that morning, just you and I. You'd guided me to the place we ended up, and there was an urgency to what you needed to tell me. The weather was unseasonably cold. The wind was bitter. You were wearing a heavy coat and a scarf tied up around your neck.
You looked into my eyes, you looked into my soul, and in that moment I knew. I knew that you knew the pain that I knew. I knew that there was a piece of the story that wasn't sliding out effortlessly. I knew that there was something you were holding back, and I knew it because I knew.

I knew it because we were in this very similar place together, but neither of us wanted to admit it, and in that moment neither of us could reach out to the other one. I'm here now and you're gone and there is nothing about it that makes sense.
Life is not fair. No one ever claimed that it was supposed to be, this much is true. It is so much more unfair to some of us though, and those of us who have been in that place where you and I were that morning can see it now in someone else, no matter how hard we try to push it away and pretend like everything is fine.

It wasn't fine.
And I knew.
But I didn't say anything.

There was a gut instinct that morning that reached into my heart and told me to show you that I understood. That urged me to open up and let you in. That wanted more than anything to assure you that I was a safe place. That wanted to tell you that there were things that I could relate to in a way that few others could.

Then there was the shame inside me that held it in, that made me stop.

It wasn't that I didn't trust you to open up.
I didn't trust myself.

I wasn't there yet.
I am now, but it's too late. I'm still here and you're gone.

I miss you. I miss your laugh and your smile and the energy that oozed from your person in such a rare way that I haven't seen it since.
You taught me many things while you were here, but the last of those lessons was the greatest of them all. It is this.

I will never hold back my emotions, my empathy, my love for someone else again. I will not let shame keep me from telling my stories. I will not ignore that urge in my heart to open up to the person who may need to hear it the most. I will not.
I just wish, oh how I wish, that I had learned that lesson sooner.

I know that you'll never read this letter, not really anyway. The finality of death assures me of this truth. Maybe, just maybe there is a way that this message can find its way to you out there somewhere.
I'm sorry.

I failed you as a friend when you needed me the most, and I failed you because I was ashamed of something I didn't even do.
I carry regret for the words that went unspoken.

My solemn vow to you is that it will never happen again.

I love you and I miss you.

As a postscript to this story, I must tell you all that I wrote this several weeks ago and turned it over to Kathy, unsure of when she would run it. I was still quite nervous about sharing this, but I decided to let it go and trust her with it. When she told me that it would run this week, suddenly it all made sense. This week, we will pass the second anniversary of the day this amazing woman left our world. I was supposed to write this. I was supposed to share this. I miss you, my dear friend.
You can find Kelly at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
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