Z’s friend Elana passed away on Monday in a car accident. Elana came to Z’s funeral in August. Elana’s visitation is tomorrow. Saturday.
Saturday is also the day of the beatification mass at Ford Field in Detroit. I have tickets. My dad worked to get me those tickets as though it would be the last gift he would give me. I can’t miss that mass.
I went to the store at lunch, I picked out a card and wrote a message of bereavement from one parent to another with the tragic connection of friendship. My plan was to drive the card to the funeral home and ask them to hold the card until Saturday and give it to the family.
Elana’s family was there. Siblings, cousins, a grandmother. Her dad.
I tried to introduce myself and since I’d started crying in the hallway, I could barely get it out.
I’m Isabella’s mom. Elana came to my daughter’s funeral in August. I’m here because my pain for you is so… bright (?).
He knew who I was. He knew who Z was. We cried together. We lamented the death of our respective daughters. So close. So tender. So horrifying.
He told me he knew Elana and Z were together. I knew it too.
Elana’s parents are Asian immigrants. Her dad’s English is broken and a little hard to understand. But man, today I understood everything he said. We spoke directly to each other’s hearts. Love is universal where language is not. Love and empathy.
I stood with Elana’s family in this exquisite moment of painful understanding.
We are not from the same place. Neither of us really knows protocol that respects the other’s culture. Do we hug? Do we stand together? How do we properly acknowledge this profound pain? We both stood awkwardly because there is no poise in this situation.
And it was also there that Elana and her family came into sharp focus. Earlier in the week I couldn’t quite place her. But today I could. I remembered her blue house in the subdivision with few trees. I remember talking with her mom when I dropped off Z to stay the night in 8th or 9th grade. I remember Z went trick-or-treating in her neighborhood when we lived in the apartment building.
I stayed only for a few minutes. I had to go back to work. My face puffy with tears and pain and loss. I went back to work because that’s what I have to do. I have to go back to work.
I’m pretty sure this was the worst lunch hour I’ve ever been party to.
0 stars. Would not recommend.