Today's gift felt like one of the most profound and heart-opening I've experienced so far. My client/friend emailed me this morning to ask my help in writing her husband's obituary, and also in contacting her local paper to find out their guidelines. He died a week ago, and (understandably) she hasn't been able to bring herself to write one.
She'd hoped that the paper might write a full-length piece on him, and I made the call and left a message. (The department is set up so that people leave messages, and if they think it's "newsworthy," they call back.) If they didn't live in such a large metropolitan area, with a paper that covers several major cities, no doubt he would've been profiled fully. I then called the other number, which was for paid notices, and gathered the information we needed.
We decided to do two: one, a paid notice in the paper, and another to be used on Caring Bridge and possibly elsewhere. The paid notice was relatively straightforward, since it could only be about 50 words. The longer one, though...
I didn't know this man personally. I've been reading all the Caring Bridge comments from people who have known him through the years; my friend sent me more details about his life, and I read his blog. From all these pieces, I wove together more a biography than an obituary. It was one of the most challenging things I've ever written, because I wanted to do justice to a very rich and multidimensional life, lived to the hilt, and I wanted it to be exactly as she wanted. I've written many dozens (maybe hundreds) of things for and with her, and we have a 'style' of going back and forth, but obviously, this was different. Writing something so deeply personal for someone I love so much - if I haven't mentioned it lately, she's one of my closest friends - felt... profound. Intense and deep. I spent all day working on it. We exchanged many emails, because I had questions about specific events, dates and locations, and in some ways, it felt like falling right into our regular rhythm, yet...different.
That I didn't know him maybe made it easier, I think, but I don't know if I was effective, or if I captured everything she wanted conveyed about him. I'll find out later, when she responds to the draft I sent her. Knowing her, she'll have some changes, and I'll revise, and we'll go back and forth - yet it's so much more than a document.
I've known this woman for seven years, and we've worked together closely for the past two. Since mid-May, I'd only heard from her once directly, and I'd begun to wonder if my every-few-days emails of support were welcome. It was such a joy to reconnect with her, and also so poignant. For the past two months, I've wished that I could do something tangible for her, and today, I was able to.
I feel like I'm not doing a great job describing what I experienced, and I could have just posted the first paragraph, I suppose, but I'm wordy like that.
(I also took the 20lbs of muffins and scones to the soup kitchen and a few other things.)
I hope you all had good Mondays. Thank you for all your support (of me) and prayers/light/energy/thoughts (for both her and me). Hugs to all of you <3