Sunday, May 01, 2011

On grieving

It surprises me that I still grieve for my friend's mom. Sure, we had a close relationship at one time, but not in the past few years. Kristin Walker passed away one week ago, peacefully, surrounded by 15 family members in a palliative care unit. After her third (I think?) bout with breast cancer, she couldn't fight anymore. It had metastesized over the years, slowly attacking her major organs. Liver. Lungs. Brain. One by one, they fell.

Kristin was more than my friend's mom. She was my ex-boyfriend's mom, and so, a surrogate mom for me, at one point in my life. I spent a considerable amount of time in her home and knew her family and loved ones very well. At one point, they were my friends and family too. In her last week, they tried to contact me. My Facebook issues made that very difficult. My ex, as usual, was not very forthcoming with information. To be fair, he had other things on his mind. He emailed me with the news on Sunday. His family didn't know I had finally been reached.

I should have known something was going on. I should have trusted my instincts. In the past few weeks, I kept feeling like I should call him, or at least text or email to see what was going on in his life. I kept putting it off. I dread awkward conversations. Many do. But I should have known. I should have listened to my pestering inner voice instead of not so subconsciously forgetting to follow through.

I wish I had gotten to say goodbye. It pains me to know that I was wanted and couldn't be there. Especially since I was only 20 minutes away by car, having gone home for an Easter visit. I wish I had known. I wish I could have wordlessly touched her hand and transferred some of my positive energy to her. Just in case it would have made a difference.

The funny thing is that I had been thinking of her all weekend. The first time I met Kristin was at a family Easter brunch. My first encounter with the Walkers. I remember it well. I remember the exact table we sat at in the restaurant, the way she looked at me. I remember her hair. I remember stressing over what to wear. I remember what I wore and I remember the warmth. The funny thing is that memory kept coming back to me. Now Easter will always be a time to remember her, even moreso than before.

I wish I could have stayed for the funeral. I wish I could have been at the wake. Because of the distance, I couldn't even bake. I ordered from a local bakery and a nearby friend - an angel - delivered them instead. She described Kristin's mom's reaction to me later over Twitter. No one should have to bury their child, no matter how young or how old. That's not the way life's energy is supposed to flow. We're supposed to grow.

It all comes back to the same place, I suppose. Kristin's life impacted that of everyone she encountered. That's just the way she was. She was a wild spirit and though everyone has their faults, she was rarely malicious. Manipulative, perhaps, but all strong spirits are. That's what makes them so feisty, so full of fire. That's what makes them who they are.

It's fitting that Kristin's wake should have taken place on the day of the Royal Wedding. She would have loved to watch it, in her pyjamas in her living room, or perhaps even in bed. She probably would have called a bunch of her friends as she watched. Gossiping. Gasping. Giggling.

Instead, all her friends came to watch her. At least she isn't suffering anymore, that much we know. At least she's not worrying anymore, she doesn't have to know. It was her time to go. And in a few weeks, we will party in her honour once more, celebrating her life, marking her death, and sharing memories that will help her live on forever in our hearts, in our heads.

Kristin, you were loved. And you will be missed.

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