Yesterday I had coffee with a wonderful woman.  We attended college together last year.  It was a bittersweet meeting.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year.

The last time I saw S we hugged in the parking lot, I wished her good luck in all her endeavors and congratulated her on her upcoming graduation.

We had connected over the previous year.  We shared classes together, we were near the same age, and we shared some of the same life difficulties.  I never really expected to see her again.  At that time life was on the upswing for both of us – finishing college, preparing our children to graduate, helping them grow up…

S reached out to me on social media when she found out about Roo’s accident.  She private messaged me kind words and her phone number.  I thanked her, but didn’t reach out to her, her life was going well and I just didn’t think I could pull myself together enough to be any kind of halfway decent company.  A little over six months later I found out on social media that S’s brother had just passed away in a car accident.  I private messaged her kind words and left her my phone number… She didn’t reach out to me and I completely understood.

Now S has started a non-profit organization in memory of her brother.  Her brother’s passion to help the homeless as led her to start an organization and begin her journey of helping others.  She has also returned to school to complete her Master’s degree.  This amazing woman in the middle of her grief is reaching out to others… I don’t know how she does it.  I sit here in the library unable to focus on my homework, unable to move past this point of a half-completed degree… I sit here and wish for focus, wish to just be done, with I for more time… wish I wasn’t here, wish Roo was here, wish that I could wake up from the awful nightmare that I seem to have been stuck in for a year… But S is doing something, she has used her grief to focus her energy while I feel all over the place.  We all grieve differently… I tell myself this daily…

Many aspects of our lives were similar in ways that often times aren’t and now this.  Spending time talking with S yesterday was … eye opening.  Being a mother who has lost a child is different than being a sister who has lost a brother.  She said something that sticks with me, “siblings are often forgotten.”  As I try to help Rin navigate her grief and loss I have often felt at a loss.  I haven’t found much about sibling loss, specifically teenagers and sibling loss.  Rin is 18 now – both wise beyond her years, but still learning the ways of adulthood.  Grieving is different for everyone.  S helped me see how difficult it can be to be the sibling – close to the situation, but not the parent.  The sibling bond is different – they share secrets with each other that the parent won’t know for many years, they get into trouble together, share experiences as peers… parents don’t have that same bond…

Thank you, S, for sharing your grief with me and for being honest and open with your emotions.  Thank you for being there without trying to help me “feel better.”  It is a rare to find a person who is ok and unafraid of someone who is in pain.

S has qualities that I wish I could emulate – she has a drive, an ability to focus… I don’t know, but she has something I want… I am hoping that meeting with her is just what I needed to kick myself in the ass and get this degree finished…

Finishing this degree feels like I will leave some part of my life behind.  Almost as if by finishing, leaving school and moving onto a new career is somehow leaving Roo behind… My partner, Joe, can only be so patient.  He continues to hold up the household financially while I can’t seem to move forward…

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