Sometimes, I still feel like I’m not quite qualified to be an adult. Yes, I’m in my thirties, am married, own a house, have college degrees, and three children, but often times I find myself wondering where the adult manual is.
This past week, I definitely didn’t feel like an adult.
A week ago tomorrow, the world lost a wonderful man named Rick. I never knew Rick as an adult; I only knew him when I was a child. His wife was my softball couch for many years. I hung around with his daughter, and visited his house. I remember that she was the only person I knew that had a real American Girl doll and I was insanely jealous. (It was Samantha, and with all the classic accessories!) My brother and Rick’s son were in the same Boy Scout troop. And my parents would hang out with him and his wife.
Our families had drifted apart at some point. It was one of those natural things. I stopped playing town softball, my brother stopped being a scout. And their family moved away.
My friends were divided into different segments of my life. My childhood friends were those that lived near me. We would have giant manhunt games while the parents sat around a backyard fire, or we played kick the can before dinner. We had tree climbing contests and rollerblading races. And a few of us even started a short-lived newspaper called the Meadow Post (for the street we lived on). By the time middle and high school came around, I had started drifting apart from these friends. Many had moved at that point, and with me being in private school, I never really got to see them. And then I had new group of friends from middle and high school.
Thinking about my childhood friends reminds me of my childhood, a time in my life that I will always cherish. I’m sure many of us look back with much more fondness than we ever felt at the time. I think there is always a certain nostalgia and optimism with childhood, but for me, losing my mom at a young age only strengthens those feelings. I was seventeen when she died, and fifteen when she was first diagnosed. So thinking of my childhood friends makes me think of my mom, and everything wonderful that she represents to me.
Losing Rick, despite not seeing him or his family for years, takes me right back to my childhood. His family was one of those that always seemed so perfectly put together. Kind, generous people. They were the type that didn’t cause ripples, and that everyone liked. I only have fond memories of him and his family.
Just recently I reconnected with both his children over Facebook. His son was now married and has his own little girl, and his daughter just recently moved to Maine and shared save the date photos for her own wedding. But more importantly, had I not made these connections I never would have known that Rick had passed.
He was surrounded by love and he was taken so suddenly. It is one of those things that just can’t be understood, and can’t be justified. It just happened.
Last night I attended Rick’s wake, and was able to see his family for the first time in years. I felt so much love for all of them in that moment. They knew me when my mom was still alive. And seeing them reminded me of such wonderful and happy times. And Rick was exactly as I remembered him. I tried to hold it together in the receiving line. I tried to be an adult. But I couldn’t. All I could say to his grown children was, “I’m sorry,” because I have been in their shoes. I’ve heard all the cliches that only ever made it hurt more. She’s in a better place. She’s not suffering anymore. God needed her more so he took her.
But I still need my mom. And Rick’s children, and his wife still need him. And I’m just so sorry for them.
The world lost a really good man last week. I hope he’s up there right now, kicking back a cold one with my mom, smiling down at all of us. And I hope his family will come to find comfort and solace as time goes on.