This is not the post I intended to write today, but I couldn’t seem to get out from under the funk that landed on my shoulders Tuesday morning. To do my piece on holiday cheer I need to be witty and upbeat. However, I found out a few mornings ago that my best friend’s husband had died suddenly.
Do you ever have those moments where events seem to come out of a book? If this had been a novel I was reading, I’d have chucked it away or boxed it up to take to charity.
My friend had searched for years through a string of boyfriends who were as terrible as a woman could have to find someone to love her. When she moved back to her family’s hometown to take care of her dying grandmother, she happened to meet a man who knew instantly she was the woman for him. Her family wasn’t as happy, because he had a reputation. He was the scandalous rake hellion that by all local accounts lived up to the “bad boy” persona.
But her unconditional, honest love was unbending enough to steer him away from the trap of bad deeds and turned him into a lovable hero. Out of four brothers, his mother lauded him as her pride and joy. And his mother adored my friend like the daughter she never had. Their kids by previous marriages/relationships were almost the same age. Everything seemed perfect, though there were a few bumps.
On September 22nd I watched them exchange their vows while holding hands and looking at each other with as much love as any human can show by the twinkle in their eyes. They had barely a few hundred dollars to their name and yet they were happy in what they’d created together…a life full of love and a true family. He’d been searching for both for a long time. They’d talked about adopting each others’ kids to make things legal, but in their hearts the five of them were already bonded.
Two months and four days later my friend called, crying as she left a message. Out of the blue…by their bed…in the house they’d lived in barely a month he’d died in her arms as she frantically begged the police to help her. But they couldn’t see past the bad boy he’d been…couldn’t believe the man they’d known on the wrong side of the law had turned into a loving father and husband.
No warning had presented itself. He’d gone out to eat and joked with friends mere hours before his death. The only cryptic trace is a sentence he’d uttered to a couple of people who shudder in hindsight. “I won’t live to see my next birthday,” and “I won’t live to see thirty.” Of course he said the words jokingly. No one believed it would come to pass. But it happened like horrific foreshadowing for an event you cringe against, not wanting the event to take place.
Now my friend is left wondering why. Atleast that’s one of the questions we can answer as writers, because we breathe life into our characters, we manipulate our cast any way we want. And I so badly wanted to help her answer that question…to put an end to the pain that radiated from her teary eyes. I wanted to clutch her close and tell her how I felt…but words just can’t express some emotions. I tried to philosophize the reason, but still I’m left with nothing but the proverbial blank page. Only my faith makes me believe there was a bigger picture that I know nothing about. But that is of little comfort to her heart that is left with a gapping void and a pain that has no elixir.
All I know is that endings like these—to heroes and heroines—leave a lasting impression. Careers can be ruined by the death of a fictional hero and real hearts can be broken irrevocably. In some cases love is like a budding flower that gets snuffed out from the chill of winter, never to blossom anew. Hopefully one day my friend will shine brightly because she’s found a new love, but truly only time can heal her hurt. I pray she will soon be able to clutch her good memories close, which are now too painful to broach in her world of chaos and uncertainty. But this man…this love that she’d sought so long shall be hard to replace.If you have someone you love, tell him/her now. Cherish every day and make the most of each minute. In life and on the page, sometimes there truly is no going back.
When I wrote ALL I EVER WANTED , which was loosely based on my friendships, I never dreamed that one of us would truly have to face the tragedy of losing a husband. Now I wish magic realms truly existed to fulfill my friend's wish--to hug her husband close and tell him one last time that she loved him.