Life can change in an instant. Most of the time it changes gradually, which is why I think we find the instant changes that come up so incredibly jarring. My friend’s mom died yesterday. She was sick, but still……jarring.

I love my friend dearly. There is a group of us that have found one another over the years our kids have gone to school together. They probably don’t know how special they are to me. What they don’t really know is that I spent years of my life only letting people become close to me if I thought we shared the same belief system. So years ago I might not have let myself love them the way I do, which is part of why they are so incredibly precious to me.

We are a pretty motley crew, honestly. All with different backgrounds and belief systems and personalities and preferences. When we spend time together having dessert or bringing our kids to the Wild Animal Park or just saying hello at drop off, I always walk away feeling refreshed and encouraged and cared for…..and fortunate to have such people willing to be my friends.

My friend whose mom died is one of my heroes. When I finally finish the book about my motherhood story and then I write the one about my journey with trauma, I want to write a book about all of my heroes. I am fortunate enough to have had some truly amazing women share enough of their stories with me that they have become heroes in my eyes. And this friend is one of them.

If I could only choose one reason for her to be in my hero club, it would be that she is unapologetically herself. Perhaps I find this heroic because I have spent much of my life apologizing for myself. And even though she is one of my heroes, she is – as all of us are – still human. And today was the first day of a year of firsts stretched out in front of her. It was the first day she woke up without her mom.

My friend has been taking care of her mom for a few years now as her mom has been slowly slipping away into Alzheimer’s. So her mom has been figuratively gone for a while but this is a whole new ball game.

When someone dies, everyone wants to help but no one really knows how. One person’s grieving doesn’t look like another’s. For those we have watched suffer, our grief may be initially mixed with relief that they are now out of pain. Some of us point to Heaven and experience a taste of comfort from the finality of it all. But eventually we are left with a reality that we have to walk the rest of our lives without this person we loved. And thus we grieve.

This is part of the reality of life I have previously tried to avoid or deny or cover up. I would like to make it easier or make it all go away. I don’t have that power. In less than a year I have had three different friends lose a husband, a father, and now a mother. I think of them all today and the weight of their grief.

I picture carrying a casket. Ridiculously heavy, many hands are needed. I know our motley crew wants to be there to help our friend carry her casket of grief, which doesn’t make it easier for her, it just makes her less alone. So we will give her hugs. We will let her cry. We will tell her we love her. And it seems only meager for the enormity of what she is dealing with, but we offer it to her anyway. Grief is an impossible process.

And admitting this truth is part of me not having all the answers anymore – not always trying to make things small enough that I can understand. I question. I ask God. I sit in the impossibility and let it be. Unapologetically.