When you come though these things, you come out with something you didn’t have before. It’s nothing you ever asked for, nothing you wanted, but it’s yours now. It’s you.
It’s you in some different incarnation. Maybe you’ve developed a deeper empathy, but I think it’s bigger than that. Maybe you’ve come into a kind of grace, or something like it. Maybe you’re just a softer person or maybe a harder person, or just one who knows how small the difference really is.
Or maybe it’s a certain kind of sadness that sinks so deeply and settles so firmly that it becomes a permanent part. It’s not a scar, not a wound that ever heals, but something that grows, ages, transforms. It’s not wisdom, not a lesson learned because it’s innate and as thoughtless as breathing. You can’t know it, you can only live it. It’s a constant reminder that joy is worth the journey, love is worth the risk and shrinking away from either is not living at all.
It is what she gave you, her parting gift.
I see her so easily still, right this moment, a flashing grin beneath the shadow of her ball cap. One final glance back before she saunters straight through heaven’s door. We’ve got this, we’ve already won. We know love that can never be touched, not by those biting November winds or the twenty-five years that have since passed, not by time, not by space, not by anything.