It begins with an email. An announcement. A mother has lost her child. Another mother. A freak accident, no explanation that makes any sense to anyone.
The phone calls between friends begin. The tears. The "what should I do?" The "I can't imagine." The shock. The walking through the grocery store in a daze because you can't seem to comprehend why a little girl had to die.
I don't pretend to be best friend's with her mother, but I do call her a friend. When I think of her face, I see a smile and a warm greeting. She always walks toward me, not away. She doesn't deserve this heartbreak.
Her daughter was in my son's class two years in a row. I was disappointed when I heard she wouldn't be a classmate this year. She was the one I had picked to grow up with Ryan. I teased him occasionally to remember to be nice to her because you were going to take her to prom someday.
They live around the block from us. Her mom, dad and little brother. She had an infectious smile and a comfortable sense around adults. Her eyes as bright and smiley as her mother's, her golden disheveled curls revealed her inner tomboy and she could definitely hold her own while playing with the boys. She was adored by so many.
As I write, I have a feeling of disbelief. This feeling will continue for months to come. My heart sank and my tears are flowing. Knowing that her parents and brother's lives are forever altered breaks my heart. They will be followed by a dark cloud. Joy will be impossible for the coming days and months. Pain and grief will come into their lives uninvited. They will have to discover a way thru it all and carve out a new existence. A new way to live. Because they'll never go back to who they were before they lost her. You turn into someone else.
I hope that smile doesn't disappear completely. I hope that warm greeting can be returned by me and others in her life.
She will need everything we can give to her now. This grief is a terrifying thing. This pain is easier to look away from, but we need to go towards the pain, look it straight in the eye and be in it with her.
Bring them food, send them cards, attend memorials. but most of all keep showing up, remember her daughter, talk about her and miss her. Even after all the ceremonies are done and the food runs out and the relatives go home. Show up. Stop by. Share a hug. Anything to know she's not alone with her grief. That's what we can do.
We will miss you sweet Sophia.