Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Stretcher Bearers

This scene is from Joey's memorial service in Maui. The pictures, the flowers, the guitar all lovingly staged by my precious friend Melissa. Melissa was Joey's second mother. I think he spent at least half of his childhood at her house because her son Kevin was Joey's best friend.
The night we got the news about Joey, Melissa went straight to his house. She kissed him goodbye for me. She noted that the birds flew out of the trees when the coroner took Joey away. She had his picture waiting for me when we arrived at the airport several hours later.
Melissa, me, Aunty Viv, Deanne

These three women, angels really, got us through the worst two weeks of our life. They helped us do the unthinkable and the impossible, say goodbye to our son. They drove through miles and miles of L.A. traffic every day to be with us. They supported a houseful of brokenhearted people walking us through our difficult decisions, planning our memorial services, and doing all the work behind the scenes. They made beautiful pictures of my son, put them on easels and into slide shows. They contacted caterers, florists, and made numerous runs to the printers. And most of all they hugged and listened and wept with us.

It is exhausting and expensive supporting the grief-stricken. These three never failed.

Uncle Don and Aunty Viv
Their loving support for us seems to come from a well that never runs dry. They also flew to Virginia to be with us for our first devastating and tearful Thanksgiving without Joey.

Bob and Deanne, friends for 30 years, gracefully stick with us through thick and thin. Deanne showed up with food for 20 and blankets so that we had what we needed our first few days in L.A. Our final dinner at their house was a holy moment of deep comfort.

Tom and Melissa came back to Maui with us for Joey's second memorial service. They not only put together the service once again, but they spoke about our beautiful Joey. All we had to do was show up. Melissa was attuned to my every need, anticipating and providing before I could even ask. All this while also carrying her own grief. Her gentleness and sensitivity are legendary, and their generosity to us bowled us over. Such friends are beyond description.

These women and their husbands were our stretcher bearers, carrying us when we were so broken we couldn't move. We will never be able to thank them enough. It was the richest, deepest, purest love we have ever experienced, and it was there when we needed it most.

"I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don't believe I deserved my friends." - Walt Whitman


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to people that seem amazing. It was so touching. When I think I am at my worst friends are there and so is God. He is most holly.
Love Sharon

karengberger said...

This is a great "thank you" note, and a good reminder of how to care for one another. Compassionate caring is a gift!