I’m not good with death. Alright, no one is good with death. I guess some people just handle it better than others. Most of the death I’ve had to deal with in my life came early. My paternal grandmother died while I was in elementary school. I remember being sad, but I also remember playing tag in the parking lot of the cemetery. Maybe I was too young to really understand then.

Later it was my maternal grandmother. I was old enough then — high school — to be devastated. I still miss her, all these years later. When I smell peaches I think of her. Her dining room always smelled like peaches.

My maternal grandfather and my mom’s sister followed. Sudden. Unexpected. And I felt numb. I was sad, of course, but the tears that I thought should come never did. Until later, alone in my bed in the dark, when the reality of it hit.

Since then there’s been deaths in families of friends. People passed that I never knew, but I attended the wakes to show my respect for my friends. Those are always so hard and I can never keep it together.

A father, who went to sleep on the couch and never woke up, leaving a family behind him. I silently cried from the balcony of the church, trying to keep it together in front of the men in uniform.Β The brother of my boss.Β I held it together through the line until I hugged my boss. And sobbed on his shoulder.

Michael’s father. A man taken from this world years beyond his time. A man I met once, yet mourned for weeks.

Mostly I find myself feeling helpless. Like I should be able to do more — comfort those who have lost.

A friend of mine has lost more loved ones in the past year than anyone should have to in two decades. As she finds herself on the cusp of losing another, I feel helpless. I want to scoop her into a hug and make the pain go away.

But I can’t.

So instead, I will run her errands, show up on her doorstep and give her the best I can.

My heart, my ears and my arms.

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