There’s No Card for These Moments
Flowers wilt, food gets eaten, a simple card is all I can think to send for an impression. A folded piece of paper filled with words to ease one’s soul. A gentle reminder that these moments pass. There are many cheering you on, praying for your heart to find comfort.
Standing in the card aisle, my heart sinks. My mind continued to drift, drawing a blank on what I should be buying. Baby chicks in Easter Eggs, bunnies happily jumping from baskets, green shamrocks surrounded by rainbows with pots of gold. The smiles are contagious, each excited to greet their recipient for the upcoming holidays. Thinking of the joy a card evokes in celebration. A small gesture in the mailbox can change your day. Reminding you that someone near or far is thinking of you.
My eyes searched for the right card. Scrolling the dictionary in my mind for the words I want to convey. The perfect image —one that can bring memories of happier times—taking away focus on the grief, loss, and confusion one is facing today. Finding myself pleading with bi-fold paper. Praying the card aisle has pre-thought-out words already written. Ones that I cannot bring myself to write.
Three aisles of joy, happiness, congratulations, and happiest of birthdays for every age, race, sex, and creed. Flooding my mind with the want to be sending these to brighten someone’s day. Sadly, this card is not a cause for celebration. The sympathy cards bring tears to my eyes… crosses, doves, and poems about loss. Bible verses citing the Lord’s Prayer, reminding us that death is only the beginning. In this moment, are any of these images or words comforting? I cannot imagine there is a card for this. What words are comforting to a mother about to bury her adult child? Only surviving 43 years on this earth. Questioning what her daughter would accomplish in the remaining lifetime, she had ahead. The endless wondering of what could have been, the reality that her walk here is no more.
Keli was a bubbly, curly-haired beauty. We were both in our early 20s, with the commonality of moving to a new area. I met her at the gym in Valley Ranch, a suburb of Irving, TX. Working the front desk by greeting guests, answering phones, and flirting with all the cute boys. I met my match with her. We quickly became friends, taking on the town every night. Dallas quickly became our playground. We came from different walks of life. She was a small-town girl from the panhandle. I grew up in a suburb of Dallas. Everything in North Texas was bright, shiny, and new to her. Each night out was met with excitement, the journey at times more fun than the destination.
Where she grew up, country music was a staple. Dancing the Texas 2-Step on a Saturday night is woven into the fibers of this panhandle gal. Two-stepping was something, this city girl knew little about. Hours spent in my apartment helping me prepare for a night out at a local honky tonk. Laughter was the center of our friendship, along with beer, boys, and the treadmill. Painful hours spent running on the treadmill recapping the previous night. Discussing what will be next on this night’s adventure.
Carefree days with little responsibility enjoying our 20s. Neither of us getting too caught up in the obstacles of adult life. She was a college student working on her degree. I was a student of life, not working in the field in which I had studied. Both of us trying to navigate through adulthood with as little responsibility as possible. It is inevitable that responsibility, like age, would find us both.
We lost touch after she moved back to her hometown, me to a home in Fort Worth. I got married, settled down with a little one, focusing on my career, losing track of my friends from those days. Social media kept us in touch for a simple congratulations or quick hello over the years. Our lives went in different directions, creating different versions of the silly 20-year-old girls dancing on tables.
Like most of us, curiosity leads me to look on the pages of social media. Keeping track of those, I don’t speak with on a regular basis. Looking at pictures of their adventures, children, spouses. Pouring over the kernel of life they wish to put out for all to view.
I had no clue that on a random Tuesday reading through my social media feed. I would learn the news of her sudden passing. The world stopped for a moment, learning of this precious girl passing on. The click of my keyboard paused, bowing my head to pray through this moment.
Her death was tragic. A car wreck with images all over the news and social media. Allowing one to relive her final moments with a click. Very little left to the imagination. Social media shedding more of its charm with every picture. The reality is that bad news sells. With little remorse for those who loved the one lost in those images. There is simply no card for this. No words for a mother who can relive this unrelenting pain at a glance of her phone, tablet, or computer any time.
I have yet to find a card with the perfect words or images. My pen is unable to strike the paper with ease. I reflect on a poem written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, words in her poem-Do Not Stand of My Grave and Weep. A reminder, Keli is always here. Her curls may not be bouncing, no longer doing the 2-step on a sawdust floor. Her joy is with us. The memory of her laughter, her infectious love of animals and life, all around.