My friend Marybeth died last fall after a 2 year illness (with a wild roller coaster of ups/downs, hope, and resignation).
This past weekend, her family and some of her closest friends gathered together to celebrate her life.
It was heartening to be with so many people who loved and supported her through her illness, and who loved and supported her from her childhood to the end of her days. To just be together to share stories, songs, laughs and tears; it was bittersweet and wonderful.
But what amazed me – and moved me in a way that was surprising – was the appearance of some very unexpected faces at the memorial. The event had been an invited affair for those closest to her, but somehow, word got out, and a handful of people from our high school class showed up anyway. Each time one of these people arrived, I was nearly reduced to tears. They hadn’t been all that close to her in her adult life, but they wanted to be there as a show of support, and it was a surprising and heartfelt gesture.
As days and years tick by, and we all lose people we love, it becomes increasingly clear to me that the simple gesture of showing up for one another – literally showing up: taking the time to show our faces, give a hug or a word of support – is so fucking meaningful and helpful.
It is a big world, and a small one too. And extending a hand, a smile and a reassuring moment means the world.
Loss sucks. We have all experienced it in varying degrees, and we will again … as long as we’re still on the planet.
Loss and pain are inevitable.
But showing up? That small gesture is everything.