We had a sad event this week when the husband of one of our book club members died suddenly. I did not know him but I have known his wife Gail for twenty years. I cannot pretend to know or understand what she is going through right now.
"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing...not healing, not curing...that is a friend who cares." Henri Nouwen
I often find myself lacking in knowing what to say or do when someone dies especially if it is a sudden death or the death of a young person. As I have written before I get my support from books and this quote from Anne Lamott struck me as exactly what I assumed about adulthood.
“It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
I continued to struggle as an adult to know what to do and when, not feeling as if I was getting it quite right, assuming that something must be lacking in my personality or I would be able to be a good source of solace or caring. I would avoid the subject or try to talk about the future rather than the past. I have come to realize that life does hand us "rusty bent old tools" that we use the best we can. And that's all right too as long as we have friends and family to be there with us. Or to be the friend who is there "not knowing or healing or curing" "doing the best we can".
My deepest sympathies to my friend Gail.