All of 2010 has been all rolled up with change. A slow, methodical kind of change – the kind that’s let gratitude run deep, packing go slowly, goodbyes happen gradually and junk be shipped off to Goodwill one small box at a time. For the most part I’ve cherished its pace, letting the benchmarks come but having ample time to take a good, long look at things that passed as they became the past, then saying “thank you” for them. I mean — who gets blessed enough to have a nine-month-long farewell tour when they decide to move to Europe?
But let’s be real. At times I’ve been a little emotional about leaving this friend, or that amazing situation, feeling jipped, like the time wasn’t enough.
That all changed today, when I was reminded that change doesn’t always come on a schedule (at least not ours), that it doesn’t always give us a chance to wrap things up in a way we feel makes sense or gives a good, satisfying sense of closure. And that broken heart I might feel at times to say goodbye — temporarily, in most cases — pales in comparison to true heartbreak.
My dear friend Brittany’s brother died.
While I was at spin class.
Brittany just turned 24 this week. She’s been packing and saying goodbyes, too, at almost the same time and pace that I have. We’re leaving the paper within three weeks of each other, her headed for North Carolina and a new job and marriage, and me headed for the UK and rain boots and more hot tea than I could ever dream of.
This morning she was packing up her car to take a load of stuff to North Carolina, and I was doing jumps in a spin class to Lady Gaga.
That’s when she got the phone call.
That’s when everything changed.
Moments later, as we were riding up I-59 toward her family, I was struck by the grace with which she dealt with such deep grief. Sadness over her brother. Humble gratitude for the outpouring of love blowing up her BlackBerry. Sobs when she thought of her brother’s wife and 1-year-old daughter. Concern for the souls of the three other men in the accident, all of whom survived. All of whom he’d shared his faith with, passionately and recently.
Horrible grief. Grace, beautiful and thick. And in the face of it, I struggled to find words. Sorry doesn’t even begin to cover the heavy, heavy heartbreak I feel for her and her family tonight. But I’m challenged, too.
May I never forget that grace, how to love deeply, hurt desperately but let go beautifully.