They say it takes a village
I don't think I quite knew what that meant until last night when I got the text that my friends mom had passed. I don't quite like death much, I mean, who does right? My eyes started to rain immediately and then all the guilt rushed over me.
I hadn't visited in awhile... a long while... I hadn't gone to see her upon news of her admittance into the hospital... I hadn't taken dinners to the family... and just like that she is gone, another flame blown out by an inescapable fate we all will face.
After the initial shock and tears the memories came rushing over me. A strong Italian beauty with eyes that mesmerized you. A certain warmness that made you feel safe yet a fierce hand that commanded a household of three boys and a strong willed girl, along with all their friends. Hers was the house where I watched my first scary movie (and many more after that), where we made spaghetti on the stove, and played for hours and hours outside daring each other to adventure into the rock pit. We stayed up late and dreamed of books we were going to write and fought over who would be princess Leia.
She was always there. She didn't hover over our adventures, she didn't coddle when someone got hurt, but she had this presence about her. When her daughter was ill she made sure I dind't bother her... a mama bear poised to defend her cubs at any moment. She was one of at least three second mamas that helped my own mother raise me. And now she is the second of those stoic women to pass on.
I believe that I grew up in a different time and a different place. While I often don't talk about my childhood I know it was actually rather magical... a small town where we would sneak out and run the streets after midnight, a place where there was a lake and trees, bonfires and adventures. The things that we did, I'd never let my kids do but not because our moms were "bad moms" or didn't care, more because I don't live in that safe magical world any more.
The news has hit me harder than I expected as my village is quite small... maybe so I won't feel the pain of losing those who are close to me. Yet here I am, tears watering down my coffee and keyboard. Mostly because a woman like her, your heart never really lets go of that. My heart aches for the children who will now navigate adulthood without her, the grandchildren who will miss her warm embrace, and the husband who is so in love with her... a love so deep, I count myself blessed to have witnessed it first hand.
I don't think my children will ever know what it was like to have a village, not like the one I had. The world is a bit emptier today because she left a hole that can never be replaced. My village lost a sage.
I love you.