A Dear, Dear Friend

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.

John 15: 12-13

Friendship is truly one of the greatest gifts of all time.  Gwen and I had met about ten years prior, not childhood friends but rather a wonderful surprise of new friendship during the mature times of our lives.  We accompanied each other into a new phase of life.  We learned to swing dance, went to Jazz Festivals, and one of our last adventures was joining the Red Hat Ladies; she taught me that even after the death of a partner, there is still joy in life. 

On October 11th of this year, I received the terrible news that one of my very best friends, Gwen, had passed away suddenly in her home.  I had spoken to her on Saturday, and we had what seemed like one of the usual conversations sprinkled with laughter and solving the world’s problems.

During these early days of loss, I’ve learned that the death of a friend is very different from any of the other deaths and losses that I had experienced.  My heart is deeply broken.  Friends, sometimes unlike family, can accept the changes in you, the new growth. My friend was a mirror to who I had become.  Our conversations reflected our wishes for tomorrow.  We were discovering a new life together.  She stood steadfastly by me during my treatment for breast cancer and I by her during severe health challenges that she experienced.  Her death left me with a deep sense of grief and loss of future adventures.

One beautiful fall afternoon, I decided to sit in the park. I was feeling sad about the loss of my friend.

As the wind brushed past me, I felt the sadness begin to lift. I felt my heart quiet, an unusual autumn butterfly alit on my arm. I sat still so as not to disturb it.  I did not want it to leave.  I heard the lyrical voice of my friend in the recesses of my mind.

Enjoy life, every minute of it

You’re never too old to learn

Value and cherish your families

Don’t give in to challenges

Hope eternal, and I will carry these messages throughout my life.  I am still sad; However, I know that I am a better person for having had Gwen in my life.  There is Hope out of the Darkness.

Shared by Denise Kaalund

5 responses to “A Dear, Dear Friend”

  1. Denise, thank you for this. It is so, so relatable. I love the park and the butterfly. I feel like Gwen will stay in your heart, as the butterfly stayed on your arm. Thank you for the gift of this post.

  2. Many thanks for sharing your loss. I certainly relate. A big help to me has been the Marble Grief Group on Monday’s at 11. Perhaps you, too, would benefit by attending.

  3. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend- what a blessing she must have been to you! Try to remember that love like that never leaves us. We can summon it, like a warm hug, just by remembering. Thank you for sharing.

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