On Monday morning I went to work only to discover that a young woman (she was in her early 30’s) who worked at the recreation center and with whom I had been friends for 10-12 years had died. She had taken suddenly ill and been in the hospital for a couple weeks.
As you can imagine the mood and atmosphere within the center was heavy with loss and grief. There was a memorial with her picture and people were offered the opportunity to leave a note to let her family know how much she was loved and would be missed.
Around noon that day, I was working with a young mildly autistic man (also in his early 30’s) who had been friends with her for a long time. We started our appointment as we often do, discussing current affairs in general and politics specifically. (A side note: he loves history, politics, and current affairs. His knowledge and understanding of the historical significance of our current political situation is staggering.) We were discussing the protests and marches surrounding the inauguration this weekend when he stopped and asked if we could talk about the young lady who had died.
He asked me some very pointed questions about how well I knew her, what happened, and how she died. I explained the best that I could, not knowing where the conversation was going. He looked me directly in the eyes and asked “You know how people always say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle?” I shook my head yes and he quickly blurted, “That’s complete bullshit!”
I didn’t know if he was referring to the pain that her parents were feeling--her twin brother had also died 10 years earlier--his personal pain, or the pain all of us are feeling right now. But I understood. It’s tough to be a feeling human being right now.
I reminded him that nothing is promised to any of us! All we can do is hang on to each other, love each other, and support each other. To make sure that those we love know and feel it. He smiled and told me he would be sure to give his mother an extra big hug when she picked him up. I reminded him to breathe and center. We had each other, it would be okay.