After months of maybe - of hopes - of perhaps, the final answer is no. No, she will not recover. No, she will not wake up. No, she is not coming back.
In April, I went to a yoga retreat in the mountains of Tennessee. Slowing down for the first time in months, I felt the weight of her absence. Even as I still entertained the ever-decreasing hope of her recovery, I knew she had already missed so much - a Christmas, her son’s first birthday, a thousand small moments and milestones.
The thought of her missing even more - of missing everything - felt like a weight I couldn’t lift off my shoulders.
So, I went for a walk by a stream on a beautiful spring day and I talked to my friend. I told her how sorry I was for what happened to her. I told her how guilty I felt that I could still hug my children and she couldn’t. I told her that I loved her - that we all loved her - and the thought of never again hearing her voice or seeing her smile was unbearable.
I felt her there with me that day and, as I watched the water rush past, here is what I decided.
As mothers, our love is like water. In a perfect world - in a world without car wrecks or cancer or war, that love is like a pool. The water is still and deep and stays in the same place. Our children can dive in and immerse themselves in that love whenever they need us. We are always there for hugs or support or advice.
But we do not live in a perfect world.
Sometimes that love is like a summer rainstorm. It comes and drenches everything in its path but then it is gone. However, the water it left behind still exists. At first, its presence is obvious. We see it in puddles on the sidewalk or in a thousand droplets across the grass. Then, we have to look harder. The water still exists as part of stream that rushed to sea or as the plant that continues to grow or as condensation filling another cloud for another rainstorm.
The love my friend felt for her children still exists. It was will always exist. The love she poured into every meal, every bath, every story is not going anywhere. As the years pass, her children will need to look harder. We all will. We will have to depend on what we know instead of what we can see - but the love will be there.
Water doesn’t die. Love doesn’t either. It merely changes form.