The resonance around a friend’s passing.

Today was my little one’s birthday, and she was home sick with a bad cold.

“I really hate being sick, mom! I don’t want to be sick!” she cried, in her sweet, fierce way.

I tried to console her. I offered to play cards with her or even to snuggle, but she was restless and achey. She wanted to lie quietly and read Harry Potter. I was happy she knew what would make her feel best, and I love seeing her growing independence.

It’s a bittersweet pleasure. Her independence, as does her birthday, means that she’s growing up. She’s no longer my frisky little cub, merging blissfully into my arms. There’s a young woman taking coltish shape. The young woman is creative, smart, engaging, and empathic while also being opinionated; I like her and I enjoy her. I am most eager to see this individual emerge.

But I will miss the little golden cub with her playful leaps and pounces.

This is already a week of missing people. Just a few days ago, a woman died whom I liked and respected. She was a beloved neuropsychologist who had worked extensively with our family, and I had great appreciation for her unique quality of being exceptionally soft and kind while also being imbued with immense intelligence. She was one of my favorite people to deal with. My husband Sabin and my daughter adored her. She managed a difficult meeting at my daughter’s school with rare grace, compassion, and authority.

She was too young to go. And I owed her a phone call to thank her for something. I had in mind I’d call her once the new year got underway.

The day after learning of her death, I attended a memorial service for a friend who had died at Christmas time. Sabin and I sat with our hands entwined, listening to my friend’s husband and children speak lovingly of her, of who she was in all her rich and imperfect and precious human fullness.

I thought how lucky my friend was to have a husband and children who accepted and respected her for exactly who she was; there’s a kind of wholeness in that, and the wholeness remains in the face of loss. I did not manage to find that kind of loving acceptance for myself in the first half of my life. I’m grateful to have been given a second chance.

 


Traci L. Slatton

Author Traci L. Slatton is a graduate of Yale and Columbia, and the award-winning, internationally published author of a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

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