My friend died last night.
She was a thoroughly beautiful person. Generous, thoughtful, kind, sassy, considerate, bright, cheerful, patient, graceful, charming, creative, talented, loving, supportive, encouraging. The kind of person who makes you want to be a better you.
A tragic, senseless accident took her life (and the lives of two others – I am so sorry for your families and loved ones. So, so sorry) while she was en route to a community function (with a van full of children, who, blessedly, walked away from the scene with minor abrasions and wounds).
She left a loving husband and three stunning children behind.
I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to lay tribute to her and her family. Not properly. Not adequately.
I never actually met Rhoda. Not in person. I was never that lucky. I have known her for years though, more than a decade. We met on a message board for a fantasy author whose works we both enjoyed. Somewhere along the way, in one thread or another, we crossed paths. Through a few of those threads and posts, we became acquainted. After several shared private messages, and then years and years and years of instant messages, texts, Facebook updates, tweets, Instagram photos, and hand written letters, we grew really very close.
We also drifted. Life happens and I understand. I have grown and changed in ways I had not anticipated. Rhoda grew and changed in ways I had not anticipated, too. She moved away from what I had known of her and that was difficult for me, at first. But to look at her now, to see where life had taken her. Folks, it is exquisite. Here is a woman living her joy and her passion. She found a path, her proper, perfect, magnificent path, and she walked it with confidence. She was so calmly, quietly, bravely sure of herself and her family and their community.
I regret not pestering her more often. I regret not knowing her now the way I knew her then. I regret not knowing more about her beautiful children and her life with her husband. I regret letting so much time pass before beginning to get to know her all over again. And I deeply regret not stalking, and, subsequently, hugging her.
I can’t change that, but I can learn from it. I have to learn from it. I have to learn from it, because I am absolutely one of those “that which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” people. I have to be. If I wasn’t, this would be meaningless. This can’t be meaningless, it just really simply can’t be. Rhoda was too big to be meaningless. Too important. Her loss is too monumental to not mean something. To not leave something behind. So I’m going to hold onto it this way: I’m going to live. I’m going to remember, because my friend lost her life far too soon, that I have no idea when I’m going to die. No idea. So all of those plans I have that I push forward for one more day? They need to start becoming my today. It’s not always going to be realistic, I understand that, but I need to start trusting myself and not being afraid to step forward and actually live.
I need to look to Rhoda and her beautiful life and remember how much faith she had every day. I need to remember how fiercely she loved her family, her community, and her life. I need to remember how important life was to her. Not just hers, but the lives of others, too. I need to remember how gracefully she walked through life. I just always need to remember her.
A friend of ours, another beautiful soul, summed all of this up so much more succinctly than I can:
(Names have been edited for privacy)
So. There’s really only one thing left that needs to be said here….
You’re going to get to hug him first. Make it a good one. Then hug him again for me.
I love you, Beautiful. To the edges of forever, I truly love you.