I traded the soup of my swirling thoughts for a cup of tomato crab with a hint of thyme; a lunch at a new-to-me restaurant with a friend who talks writing. Weary of wearing yoga pants as my outfit and pajamas, I needed fresh perspective after being cooped up, writing for several weeks.
We were grieving the loss of a mutual friend who chose folly over truth as her living epitaph. Turning a cheek from Light toward darkness, she declared herself fool with a megaphone. That truth, it left us wilting in sadness.
“Grief shared is grief diminished,” said Elizabeth, “I thought I would get this news out of the way first so we can move on to something more cheerful.”
That phrase was a familiar saying her father spoke often as a funeral director for many years before retirement. He knows the way of grief like the lines on his face, I thought. His sentence stuck with me while we pulled spoons to our thoughts, and then quickly faded when my name was called by a trench coat in TJ Maxx.
It wasn’t until hours later, while having coffee at a crowded Starbucks that those words about grief returned to the forefront like a lasso pulling on the horns of a calf.
Meekly interrupting my conversation with another girlfriend, a woman gently places a flyer in front of each one of us on the café table holding our tall and grandé. Disheveled hair, mascara bleeding under bottom eyelashes, she wears the top of a nurses uniform underneath a violet hoodie. A nametag with Manager indented in black.
She asks if we would be willing to sign the petition. “My daughter was killed as a pedestrian, hit by a car last month and I’m trying to do something to change the intersection,” she said quietly, pulling her hand up to her cheek to wipe the tears off.
I look down, glimpse the black and white photograph of her beautiful twenty-something daughter above words on the paper, clamp my hand around her bony arm and ask if she can sit down for a minute. She pulls up a chair, rests the box of fliers on her lap and begins rolling fingers around the shiny necklace she is wearing. Confesses that she is working but mostly running the vacuum and washing the dishes at a doctor’s office.
Death is fresh, the longing in her dark eyes are pleading for answers in the arched eyebrows of a mother’s worst nightmare.
We each share our own stories of grief and redemption. I tell her about how I came within an inch of losing my daughter to an eighteen wheeler a year ago last November.
I ask about faith, if she knows Jesus. She nods, admits she can’t pray yet but she’s reading scripture daily. And that’s when those words come back. Grief shared is grief diminished.
Repeating our incomprehensible stories of horror are sometimes the only prayers we can utter for healing. Perhaps that’s why we recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . . is the emergency number usually remembered in trauma. And the violence of heaven is unleashed.