Foreword: Today I was one of three women comforting a co-worker in her hour of grief. Later, when reflecting on the day, I realized the significance of three women and was instantly honored to be one of them. The essay below was my personal Thank-You note to the three beautiful ladies who got me through one of my darkest hours. It was written just days after Pop’s death in 2018. Today’s events made me reflect on this, and I post it now to honor the friends who love beyond measure.
On the last day of March I interviewed for the first time with OIB, after which I went back to my office at the Catholic Center, certain that I had not made the impression necessary to land the job. I reasoned that I could find peace in that fact, that God would place me where he needed me, even if it meant staying where I was. An hour later I was sitting at my desk when a call came in with news I almost couldn’t bear. My father-in-law’s upper GI that morning revealed a tumor in his esophagus. A biopsy had been performed, but even without full results doctors knew it was most likely cancer.
I recall sinking into my chair and putting my head on my desk as tears threatened. We had just come through the darkest night with my mother-in-law’s cancer. Her healing had been the miracle we dared not expect. Her illness had been tumultuous, and I had taken her care as my personal responsibility, though in fact it was shared by many. The news of Pop’s tumor burst the bubble of hope and ease, the promise of brighter days, that I had allowed myself to seek comfort in for almost a year.
When I raised my head from my desk, three women surrounded me. They were the family I chose, the friends who would stand by me through any storm. I burst into tears as one held me. All I recall saying is, “I don’t think I can do this again.” They each assured me that not only was I strong enough, but that they would not leave my side. And they didn’t.
Leaving the daily presence of those friends whom I love so dearly was not easy. I feared for a long time that I might not enjoy relationships that close, that near to my heart, in my new work environment.
I was wrong.
Last week when I answered the phone call that told me of Pop’s exit from this earthly life, I felt the weight of a sadness I have never known. As a family we have not sustained loss this close. Dom and his brothers, their wives and I all have our parents, alive and well. I was wading into territory none of us knew how to navigate. Fear and hopelessness closed in on me and I could not contain the emotion, regardless of my preference to remain wholly dignified in that moment. I laid my head on my desk and tried to breathe through the sobs that simply would not be silenced.
When I raised my head I was at once moved by the sight of three women surrounding me. Three beautiful women whom I have grown to care for quite deeply in the short time I have known them. Three women who held me and assured me that I could weather this storm, and that they too would be by my side.
When I consider the parallels of the journey I have taken over the past year, I am struck by God’s truly amazing grace and the constant reminders of his love. His joy shines through you daily and gives me courage to press on through all things. His love poured out through you three on Wednesday and in the days that followed. For everything you have done and everything that you are, I love you immensely. Thank you.