Thursday, October 31, 2013

black dresses.

This past weekend, while getting ready for our friend's brother's funeral, Rache called me.  Her voice was somber as I'm sure was mine.  She talked about pulling out her black dress, the one that she wears to every funeral.  She talked about how every time she pulls it out she thinks about having to bury Mabel and the worry that she carries, as my friend, for me.  We talked about the burden of our lives and how it often feels heavy.  We are young, after all, and have endured much tragedy with the full awareness that there is much more to come.  I assured her that every group of friends must experience a level of loss like this; it just feels deeper because it is personal. 
It is ours. 
She didn't sound so sure. 
We talked for quite some time and even managed to laugh, like we usually do, about our circumstances.  We all, {our village} have lost children, lost parents, lost siblings, endured abuse of all kinds, suffered through devastating diagnosis', have been abandoned, are estranged from parents, crippled from divorce and so much more. 
There is this wall of strength surrounding these women but it was not built through happenstance.  It was built in trial and in triumph.  Sometimes in the grudge of the pit.  Sometimes only in the eyes of one another.  These women are tough but not by choice.  Not ever by choice.  We were created with the ability to endure horrific events but we never intended to have to rise up and face them.  There is this guttural, deep, intense and lasting pain; a knowing, that is between each of us.  And that is what makes this village work.  We know that when one loses, we all do.  We know that one suffers, we all do.  We know that when one cannot get up and crawl to the surface for air, we all must carry them there and make them breathe. 
Breathe it in and blow it out.
We have an empathy among us that goes far beyond that of it's typical definition.  It is a limb-like presence that we share and it is so unique.  We are incredibly blessed. 
Rache sighed on the other end of the phone, neither of us wanting to walk into that church and watch our friend heave at the fact that her life is forever changed.  We were literally sick over it and even now I cannot type the words without feeling the need to vomit.  My poor heart and it's aching for Megan; it's almost too much.  But I absolutely want to feel it. 
Because that is what makes us.
And what I feel for each of them, I know they feel for me and I know they will continue to through the depths of my changing and despair...whatever life brings. 
The truth is that life is forever changing and being altered.  Sometimes it just takes the knowing that there are people around you who will love you even in that.  It's a lonely and scary thing to feel like everyone has forgotten your reality; your pain. 
My promise to Megan yesterday was that I will not forget.  It will be as raw to me as it can be because I love her deeply.
Sadly, our black dresses were worn once again to bury someone that was loved immensely.  The finality that death brings is haunting sometimes.  But I was reminded on the phone with Rache early that morning, before the tears fell and while we didn't have to be oh so brave that while they have seen much sorrow, these same black dresses have also seen a whole lot of joy. 
They have been worn on dates, in red lipstick and pretty heels.  They have been worn to weddings, for dancing.  They have been worn with cardigans over top for a casual dinner with friends.  They have even been worn, barefoot with tights, while filling up an empty car on the side of the road with gas. 
The black dresses that we wear are so symbolic to me. 
They represent the growing that is a result of sadness and struggle. 
They mimic the sadness and agony we have felt while watching another from across a funeral home.
They are a representation of the confident, head-held-high ability of fierce, brave women.
They are a reminder of our youth and of our depth.
They are an accurate portrayal of this life that we somehow have grown all too familiar with; a dance of both sorrow and joy, sadness and total happy, bound up and completely free.
In this life it all goes hand in hand.  The beauty is learning to find the balance in the knowing that it is ok to feel every conflicting emotion together.  They can coexist among one other. 
There is joy there.
I watched Megan stand in a line full of hundreds of people who love her and who loved her brother in big ways. As I stared into her tired eyes, every now and then I would catch her laugh.  Hers is unmistakable and it was a refreshing reminder of how resilient we humans can be.  God carved out in us a place for strength in times of total and utter pain.  He made us capable. 
I wiped my eyes and every now and then would glance down at my dress; my dark, comforting reminder.  That night I carefully took it off and hung it in the place where I will pull it from next.  I thought of each one of my friends and the people who love me and the devastation that I know they will feel for me one day when they see me wearing it.  The inevitable truth is that I will wear it again.  It's just that we never know when and we never know why.  All I know is that I am thankful to be in this life with people who will stand beside me in it, no matter what the circumstances and remember how beautiful we looked and how strong we are, together.
Black dresses and all. 

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