All day my mind has been fragmented and whirring – with thoughts and phrases, ideas and grief.
Today I dust off this blog…as I flex the familiar muscles of mourning.
Last night I learned that my friend Dani passed away suddenly. Dani and I shared life for two years in Haiti.
She was my people.
A kindred spirit.
She was bold – and spoke truth.
We wondered together.
And worked to make hope tangible.
And our faith journeyed and meandered side by side.
She co-founded a social business, giving sustainable employment to women in Haiti…a very tangible expression of the One who is Hope, who sustained her.
These words do not begin to do justice to the fullness of Dani.
I’ve thought about how when people die we often collectively put on our rose-colored glasses and remember the best of them. We gloss over the faults and imperfections to celebrate the best parts…in a sense diminishing their humanity by forgetting their rough parts, their struggle, the gritty parts…after all, isn’t the beauty of true relationship that you know the darkest parts of a person – and love them, not in spite of that knowledge…but because relationship is most true when it encompasses the entire spectrum of a person’s thought, actions, perspective and humanity?
So, its with that in mind, that still I remember Dani as living well.
She asked hard questions, and stayed in the uncomfortable unknowing, rather than settle on pat answers.
She was fiercely loyal and loving to her tribe.
She was full of life, and celebration.
She baked delicious food, and practiced hospitality.
She poured herself out for things she believed in.
She dreamed big dreams.
She was honest about her struggles, and invited us to journey with her toward more.
She loved her partner Kyle fiercely, and mothered her sons so beautifully.
I hope that I will be a mom like Dani was. Nurturing, and present, chaotic, and engaged. I loved watching her love her sons.
Dani was fully present to her own life…and invited those around her to do the same.
The heavy yoke of loss is not unfamiliar to me.
And while I have some rituals and tools to navigate this loss – it isn’t really any easier.
In India after we would leave the crematorium we would gather together to be.
To celebrate and grieve.
To be angry and shake a fist at the sky.
I will never forget the day that Becca and Andrew knocked on my door after a funeral. They came bearing fried food, whiskey, and the gift of their presence.
For me, whiskey is a part of the ritual of remembering.
I told Rishi about the whiskey ritual, and he asked me if I wanted to have some whiskey (and he would join me).
I told him “no” cause I wasn’t ready yet.
And then we drank whiskey.
Because you are never ready.
This is the sort of loss that you cannot brace yourself for.
We sat in the sadness.
We grieved for the loss of life and light.
We grieved for the loss of our friend.
We named the loss of her voice and perspective in our lives.
We mourned for sweet little boys who won’t get to know how amazing their mom was
And for Kyle, who has suddenly lost his partner.
On days like this, my brain whirs, and I feel fragmented.
There are not answers or explanations.
The only prayer my soul can muster is for mercy.
So I choose to remember my favorite words of the liturgy.
“But you are the same God whose nature is to have mercy”
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.