On April 23, 2015, I lost one of my dearest friends, Nikki. The world lost a wonderful person and Heaven gained an angel. If you follow my blog at all, you know that I typically don’t name names here – or I try not to – because I don’t want my ranting and raving and rambling to affect someone else and my opinions are my own. That being said, my friend is now gone, and I am devastated. Selfishly devastated for my own loss of a treasured friend, yes, but even more so, I am devastated for those she left behind: her loving husband and their three beautiful little children (ages 9, 6 and 2); her mother, who lived with them and their entire family. To say that this is tragic would be an understatement.
As anyone who has dealt with loss and grief knows, there are many things that run through your head at once. Disbelief coupled with hurt and overwhelming pain. Unthinkable. Unimaginable. Indescribable. The entire thing only serves to leave giant, gaping holes in those left behind.
Nikki’s light burned so brightly. She quite literally vibrated with energy. I don’t think I ever saw her truly still. She was a fabulous mother, a wonderful friend, and a beautiful, beautiful person inside and out. I’m going to miss her terribly. But more than that, now that I’ve had a very teeny tiny amount of time to think things through (sorry about the alliteration) is this overwhelming GUILT that I feel. And I think – I know – it’s because I feel like I was a terrible friend. I also know she would give me that patented Nikki look and tell me I was crazy and to get over it. Then she’d probably roll her eyes or smack me (literally, but lovingly) upside the head. I can’t help but think of all the times I forgot something important or wasn’t able to take her calls when she phoned, or couldn’t make it out to her house for a visit after they moved away from town. I hope she does know I loved her; love her still.
And aside from this inconceivable loss, there are several other issues that are plaguing me on a personal level. My own mother died when I was quite young. Not as young as Nikki’s kids (I was 15, my brother was 11 and our sister was 7), but still, I know what it is to lose your mother. I need to say here that I am in no way attributing Nikki’s loss to the loss of my own mother, but there are a lot of similarities here that must not go unnoticed. My mother died and left behind an oldest girl, a middle boy and a youngest girl. Nikki left the same. And I’m wondering, now, in my own small way, if I was not meant to go through the loss of my mother, and all that meant for me growing up, in order to be here for Nikki’s sweet babies; to at least give them someone to talk to when and if they need it. And believe me, if I had had someone I felt comfortable enough to talk to about all the (pardon me) crap that went on in my life after I lost my mother, I would have been a lot better off for it.
I’ve known each one of those kiddos since they were born. The oldest (9) used to fall asleep in my arms at church every Sunday. All three of them know me as Aunt Jennifer. At one time or another, they’ve each been hugged by me, kissed by me, loved on by me, disciplined by me, taught by me, bathed, dressed and tucked in by me. I’m not a stranger to them. And as Nikki’s friend (and as Kevin’s friend) I hope that I will be allowed to continue to be Aunt Jennifer and to be there when they need a momma-figure.
And that is something else, too. In no way do I expect to take the place of Nikki. No one else can be “momma” to those babies. But Kevin is lucky that he’s got a TON of strong women to help him with the “momma” stuff if and when he needs it.
I know I’m all over the place with this post, and I’m sorry. I’ve had a few days to think about it and still don’t really know what I think. I’m numb. And if I’M numb, I can’t even imagine how Kevin feels. Everyone is going to tell him that his kiddos are his first priority now, but really that’s not true. He is his own first priority, because if he doesn’t take care of himself, he won’t be able to take care of his kids. He’s got an amazing support system. He’s got a community full of people who love him. He’s got so many things to be thankful for. But he doesn’t have his Nikki. And I cannot even imagine that loss. Losing a parent, while devastating, is not the same as losing a spouse.
So, however you worship, say a prayer for Kevin and the kiddos. They’re going to need every ounce of support they can get.