It has been just over two weeks since we got the news that our dear friend Henry died. He was at home, in his room, with his family. It was peaceful, and just as it should have been - though, of course, it was not at all as it should have been.
His mom, Gretchen, posted the news with this beautiful graphic:
Her grace continues to astound me.
I have spent the past two weeks thinking of that small, quiet room - being grateful for it. As Gretchen has since explained, Henry's family has been grieving for a year, since his tumor was diagnosed. They have been through all of Kubler-Ross's stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, now, acceptance.
For me, half a country away, even with regular updates from Gretchen, it was easy to stay in denial. Even when I knew there was nothing else to be done, I continued to think that something would happen to change the inevitable outcome.
It didn't, of course, and so I have made the leap from denial into anger.
I keep going back to this post from 2008. Our friend Vicki had just lost her son, Evan, and our blogging community was reeling. I realized for the first time how much these people who lived in my computer meant to me, and how emotionally vulnerable it made me. I wrote, Gretchen commented, we all grieved. But, of course, we had no idea that we would find ourselves here eight years later.
Back in 2008, as I reflected on our friendships and interdependence in the aftermath of Evan's loss, I wrote, "Now, suddenly, coexisting with the vulnerability, there is strength; with the fear, there is assurance; with the grief, there is joy." I'm struggling to find that balance now that we've lost Henry. I know they must be there somewhere - the strength, the assurance, the joy. But I'm just not able to be philosophical yet. For now, it just feels completely unfair. For now, I am just really, really angry. And anger is a vast, echoing cavern.
The only thing that is tempering that anger right now is love - love for Henry, love for Gretchen and the rest of her family, and love for my blogging friends as we continue to hold each other up through our darkest times. I am grateful for you, friends, and thankful to have a community that will gather in support, whether in vast caverns or quiet rooms.
And Gretchen, I hope you know how much you are loved, and how much Henry is missed. We will be always be here for you, and we will always remember, and celebrate, him.
(The quote that appears in the graphic is from Cheryl Strayed.)