A Day of Joy and Loss

Saturday was a bizarre day. I went to a baby shower for one of my oldest, closest, and most wonderful friends. Kari has always wanted to bring life into this world, to have a baby to love and protect. I'm so happy she is only weeks away from meeting her baby girl, what I know will be the happiest day of her life. So, the shower felt like a celebration of all the joy she has in store.

From there I swooped in for about 15 minutes to check on the home front and then went to a memorial service for a sorority sister who recently passed away after a relatively short battle with cancer. Emily was 30 years old. I wouldn't call us great friends, but we were friendly. However, we shared an extraordinary friend who was close to both of us. I went to support my dear friend who is mourning the end of her friend's life and because her parents deserved to know that their daughter was part of a community of people who will miss her. I can imagine how important that was to them.

My day consisted of two most opposite views of life. Joy for a new, innocent life and all of the possibilities of a new baby. Joy that can only be understood by a new mother holding a sweet, tiny onesie or the blanket they'll use to swaddle their baby. Then it was Loss. Loss of a life way too early... before weddings or onesies.

My friend Angie spoke at the memorial and told a story about Emily, mentioning a gift she brought to a friend for her birthday when a gift was not necessary. She cited that without knowing what life had left in store for her, she was determined to live the best life she could, be the best friend she could, ultimately give her friends the best possible memories of their time together. Something to remember her by, perhaps, whether that be a tangible gift or the gift of knowledge. I'm still thinking about this and it's making me reconsider every interaction I have. Perhaps that was her gift to me, what she taught me in her short life. I know it's not profound, but it felt like it. No matter how many times we tell ourselves to live every day as if it's our last, the voice in the back of our head reminds us that there's really good chance it isn't.

Why is it that we only do this when facing our mortality? What if Kari's new baby were to grow up with this knowledge from her first day of life? Imagine the impact she would make on this world, on the people around her. Then maybe a life that only lasts 30 years would be a life lived fully.

When I think back on Saturday, I see smiles and tears, there was a lot of laughter, plenty of stress, and a lot of hugs. But, the vision I can't get out of my head is of two huge brown eyes watching me as I walked out the door yet again. I looked back over my shoulder and saw him sitting at the dinner table eating dinner with his dad as I drove off to be a friend. I feel like I'm too often driving away, but I know it's always for the right reasons. And I can only hold onto the hope that I am living my life in the best way possible, knowing when I have to be there.

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