Another special day going on here at FMFO. My sweet friend Aimee would have turned 32 today. But she won't. We lost her a year and a half ago, and this is the second birthday we've had to live through without her. So instead, we celebrate the short-but-wonderful life she had, but still grieve for the life she missed out on living. I was telling Greg last night that surely this milestone would be easier; that I would be able to only remember the good things and smile, and not need to weep with my head in my hands. I was wrong. The tears come easily, and the pangs of heartache are there, just as they have always been. And that's OK. She is still worth every tear, and the pain of losing her still stings inside of me.
But I found myself examining this morning (while on the phone with my awesome friend Sara) the reasons WHY it continues to be so hard, and why we who loved her best continue to struggle with letting go and moving above the sadness.
I think the bulk of it is this: this is not like losing a grandmother who lived her whole life, or even like losing someone young who takes their own life. It's not even like losing someone who was sick and was taken too soon but who had time to at least examine the possibility of dying. I am not discounting or devaluing those losses - I'm just saying they are different. Because Aimee's loss was sudden, confusing and unexplained (still is, largely) and I believe with every fiber of me that she fought with all her might to stay alive. I believe that she fought for her life, for her baby's life, and she lost. And that sucks. And I grieve that reality over and over, as many who loved her do, because it never makes any more sense, it never gets easier to accept, and it never leaves less of a hole in our lives when we revisit it again and again.
I wonder if she knew she was dying. I wonder if she was afraid. I wonder if she was screaming inside her head but couldn't get out more than the cry that came from her lips just before she was gone. I wonder lots of things about where and how she was in those final moments. And I grieve. Not even just for me, for Greg and our kids who will miss out on the beauty of Aimee in their lives as they grow. I grieve for Nik who had to live through it and watch it all happen in their own home, in their own bed. I grieve for her parents who lost their only child, their only grandchild, and their whole world all in one fell swoop. I grieve for their families. I grieve for Dar, and Jess and Jared, and all of her close friends in IA who know how keenly losing her cuts through every day life. I grieve for the friends who lost touch but who always thought there would be more time to catch up, as we all do. We always think there's more time, we tell ourselves that it's our nature to believe that. But the true nature is the nature of our bodies and our world, which all prove to us over and over that NONE of us is guaranteed more time. None of us have been promised tomorrow.
And I think that's her gift to us on this day, her birthday: a reminder. A reminder to say those words you haven't said, to whomever you need to say them. Pursue and become the person you want to be. Do that thing for someone that you've been meaning to do. Tell someone who matters that they matter. I know there are people who Aimee would have liked to have said "goodbye" to (or "eat a dick" to) before she went on and left this life. And I can hear her voice in my head, reminding me not to wait; to do it now, today. There are things she didn't get to do, and it honors her memory when we do those things.
And it's coming to me as I type that it also honors her memory to try our best to be happy while we're here. It's easy, comforting even, to get lost in the sorrow, to soak in it and let it surround us in a blanket of tears and self-pity for all we've lost. But what would Aimee give to be here today? And how would she want me to spend it? How would she want YOU to spend it? She would want us to laugh about all the fun, crazy, silly, hilarious shit we did while she was here. She would want us to eat a piece of cake, dammit, and enjoy every bite. She would want us to live. That much I do know. And Aimee was usually pretty good about getting what she wanted, so I'm guessing we're all better off just trying to do our best to do what she wants us to do.
I'll try if you'll try. Deal?
Happy Birthday, Aimee. There are no words, not for my lack of trying, to say how much you mean, how much you're missed, and how much we wish we could share this day with you. Love and hugs to heaven, my dear friend.