Grief is one of those inexplicable things that you can never really wrap your head around, can never really figure out how it happens the way it does or why it happens the way it does. All you know is that you're feeling it, and now you have to deal with it.
This incredible woman from my hometown passed away last night. She was both a friend's mother and my mother's friend. She had a nine-month long battle with an aggressive form of cancer, which was three times the amount of time the doctors had predicted she had left. She was a fighter.
But more than that: Linda was this support system for a lot of the folks in my hometown. See, Linda was one of the town's hairstylists. She did my hair from the time I was just a little thing and hardly had a reason to have my hair cut, right up until I made my big move last October. She lived through all my big moments with me: my graduation from grade 8, my prom, my scary roommate drama, my mom's own diagnosis, my graduation from undergrad, my decision to gtfo of town--Linda was there. She listened, she supported, she encouraged. She cheered with me (and with my own Momma) when I had success and shook her fist at the people who'd done me wrong. She was the first person I ran to when I'd inevitably screwed up my hair on my own: she kept me from doing crazy things to my hair, but always supported what I wanted to do. She made sure I looked good so that I felt good, and always knew just what to do to make it better. She wasn't just my friend's mother, or my mother's friend. She wasn't just a hair dresser. Linda was a friend, a support system and, particularly during her battle, an inspiration to all of us.
So maybe this is why Linda's death is hitting me so hard. Like I said, grief is inexplicable. By all accounts, I knew this was coming and should have better prepared, but I'm an emotional creature (some might say too much sometimes) and all I can do is sit here and think and feel...sad. For me, but also for her family. For her husband, whose world revolved around her. For her daughter, only a few years younger than I, who now has to finish her growing up without her Ma. For the grandkids Linda never got to meet, or the son-in-law she never got to have; for the wedding hair of mine she'll never do, and for all of the people in our town who will miss her more than words can ever explain. I cry for me, for my family, for them, for all of the missed moments yet to come.
But while my town mourns, we need to keep in mind things...Linda taught us all a lot: to love fully, to experience life to the fullest, to appreciate the little moments, to fight. I'm going to take those lessons and live my life that way, because sad as I am, I know that's the best way to honour her and her memory.
So today, everyone: hug a stranger, tell the people who matter that you love them, do something crazy that you've always wanted to do. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Eat that extra piece of cake. Live a lot. Don't ever waste a day.
Rest in peace, Linda. I know you're out there somewhere, cheering us all on, just like you always have. :)