“You will lose someone you can’t live without,
and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is
that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.
But this is also the good news.
They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.
And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
In a sense, the social media on the Internet makes for strange bedfellows . . . you never know who will up being someone you care for . . . someone who touches your life . . . someone who becomes a relationship in your life . . . people, who, in a million years, you never imagined would be a part of your existence. As an introvert who appreciates and protects his privacy zone around his heart, I never imagined that I would be touched by the life another person who I have never personally met . . . who lives many, many miles away . . . and, is much older than I am. But, it happens.
It started awhile back when I received a comment on one of the writings I posted on my blog . . . kind of a humorous, backhanded compliment . . . a note from another introvert who happened to like what I wrote. Kind of made me feel good . . . especially when this individual eventually asked me to “friend” him on Facebook. Suddenly I was wondering if this was one of those strange stalking types . . . but, it turned out to be a nice old guy in Michigan with a wickedly dry sense of humor that made me smile (and, at times, laugh) who had once lived in Montana. Turns out . . . he wasn’t so bad.
Our relationship as so-called “friends” was pretty much lived on the pages of social media found on the Internet. If I wrote something that tickled his funny bone or made him think . . . I got a quick comment and a thumbs up. I looked forward to those moments when they appeared. I looked forward to seeing his name or picture show up on either my blog or Facebook page. He made my day and validated my efforts at either humor or wisdom. Unbeknownest to either of us, we actually were starting to care for one another even though we had never met face-to-face. Would this fellow be someone I ever sought out as a friend? Probably not . . . but, as I stated, social media on the Internet makes for some strange bedfellows.
It was not until early this morning that I came to the knowledge of how much of a relationship there really was between the two of us. It was just a quick short note . . . not to anyone in particular, but to all who were his “friends” on Facebook: “Midge passed away early this morning. There will be no service. That's not a religious or philosophical statement about anything, just a personal preference that we agreed on much earlier. And thanks for understanding my personal need to spend much time alone and quiet.” Words spoken like a true introvert—which my friend is. My unseen friend had suffered the death of someone significant in his life . . . his wife. My heart was broken.
Brokenness seems to be a big part of grief . . . the heart is broken, sometimes shattered, when someone whom we have greatly loved dies. And, as hard as we try we can never get the shattered pieces back together again as they once were . . . no matter how long we try, we can never get our hearts back to what they once were. There is always a piece missing . . . especially when that love is deep and long. As a minister I have witnessed this over and over again when dealing with death with people within the congregations I have served. As a son who has had both his parents die . . . I can speak to this. And, in one of the greatest losses in my life—as silly as it may sound, when my beloved Boxer died . . . my heart was shattered. The hurt is sharp and it echoes . . . yes, echoes . . . through the whole body to the root of our souls. Grief is not for the faint-hearted . . . and, because this is the case, I ached for my friend and the pain he must be feeling.
Also, as a minister, the expectation is that I will know what words to say to those who grieve . . . but, in all honesty, I do not know. It is a crap shoot, and those who grieve will tell you that sometimes they just wish the minister would just shut up. So, I have learned that there is not a whole bunch that needs to be said. Sometimes there are no words that could ever express the emotions and feelings of someone who has experienced a death in his or her life. Sometimes the best thing and only thing that could ever happen is to just be there . . . be there in silence . . . be there to listen . . . be there to embrace . . . be there to take the anger and beating . . . to just be there. To be there no matter how long it takes because it will always be there.
Much time alone and quiet . . . again, spoken like the true introvert he is, my friend has shared his needs. It is not selfish, it is not cold and aloof . . . it is a time for remembering, for laughter, for tears . . . time for anger, a time for letting go, a time for healing . . . a time for learning how to dance with a limp. Life has suddenly changed for my friend . . . it will never be the same, the love of his life has died . . . my heart cracked a bit too, for my friend.
These words, as empty as they might be . . . are all I can offer to my friend. But, if I were there, I would hug my friend (as much as it would make him flinch in true introvert fashion), and then just sit with him in the still quietness of his grief. I would let him know that I, too, dance with a limp . . . a limp that seems to get more and more pronounced the older I get. For my friend who is far, far away . . . known, but unmet . . . I offer you my prayers, my thoughts, and my presence. In the end, when you are ready, we will dance with a limp in celebration of a life well lived and shared. God be with you, my friend . . . Clif.