When you lose a child, their friends naturally become your own treasures, your beloved “adopted” jewels. Your deceased child’s “best friend” is especially precious to your heart. This July, I began to have thoughts and concerns about our departed daughter Emmy’s best friend, Amber.
Thoughts of her stabbed my mind and my heart every few minutes. I couldn’t focus on my writing, my chores, or my life in general. I knew this was not good. I lit candles and I lit incense, finally, I checked her Facebook and I messaged her. She replied cheerily, all was well with her, she was in love, all was perfectly wonderful, the young man was nothing short of “prince charming.” Still, her words were in print, with no voice inflections, something felt wrong. I lit more candles and burned more sage. I messaged her again a time or two through July, nothing came back.
On the morning of August fifth, the shrill ringing of the phone slashed the silence of this old house like a sword splitting a ripe melon, it was Amber. In a weak voice, she asked for me to come and get her. When she came out of the house where she was staying, I hardly recognized the bright, happy girl who once played under the trees in our yard, the girl with the lovely voice that had sung and danced so merrily with our precious Emmy. This girl was skin and bones, she was gaunt, she had two black eyes, there were scratches and scrapes on her face, the skin over her knees was torn and bloody, her ankles had deep burns that were oozing with infection. Her eyes were wide and pale, her hands shook, she was wearing ragged sweat pants and a faded tee-shirt. Her slender feet slipped and slid inside of a huge pair of mens flip-flops, a toe nail was split and broken, the dated orange-colored toenail polish was chipped off of several toes, as if she had been drug with her toes scraping the pavement.
I did not know this girl. Not THIS girl. Emmy and she had lost touch during highschool when Amber became pregnant and left town to be with her boyfriend and his family. She had eventually married another man and had given birth to two babies during the time our daughter was graduating high school, working and going to college. At one point, just before our daughters passing, she and Amber had reunited, Amber attended our daughters wedding, she was thin, but, she had appeared happy, I had spoken with her briefly.
Our Emmy’s health went rapidly down hill after her wedding and she passed away just weeks later. I lost touch with reality for a time and I did not check on Amber again, once I had made the terrible call about our sweet Emmy’s tragic passing. I only remember Amber screaming and crying into the phone, I had hung up the phone then and gone to my bed.
Four years had passed for Amber and for myself in what (for both of us) was a storm of gut wrenching sadness and grief. We shared one terrible thing, loss.
Through a series of bad choices, Amber lost custody of her boys around a year after our Emmy passed. Their perspective fathers were granted full custody of them, sadly, they were separated from their Mother and from one another. Amber was only granted one supervised phone call per week, in which she was usually denied the opportunity to speak to her sons. Soon after, Amber became involved with a succession of violent men, one more dangerous than the previous. She became heavily involved with drugs and she developed a serious alcohol problem as well. That August morning when I picked her up, she told me that without her baby boys, her life was not worth living. She told me with earnest, hollow eyes, that she wanted to die, and she knew that she was close. I told her that life was indeed worth living, she just had to love herself enough to start over. “A “do over” is what you need” I chirped. Inside of my chest, my heart stood still as I said this, because, she was right, she did look as if she was very near death.
For the first three days at our house, she puked, her enormous blue eyes rolled back in her head, she would fall in the floor when she tried to walk to the bathroom, she slept and she screamed in her sleep, sometimes she sobbed between screams. I went to her Fathers house and asked him if I should take her to the hospital, he did not know what to do or what to say, he was scared.
I ran out and grabbed some clothes, toiletries, and a toothbrush for her, she had arrived with nothing.
I fed her soup, cleaned her wounds and I held her hair while she vomited day after day. My husband looked both sad and terrified, he paced the floors. He and I cried together when Amber was sleeping soundly.
On the fourth day, she began to eat solid food and keep it down. I took her walking with me on the fifth day, high on a hill overlooking our tiny town. She walked about forty feet and collapsed, we came back the next day. Eventually, she began to sleep without crying out, and she began to eat heartily. She began to walk with me, two miles each day. One day she began to run. I took her to mountains where we rent a little cabin each fall, we hiked and we dressed up in witch garb and took pictures of ourselves “pretend” flying. She began to laugh often. She attended a support group for survivors of domestic violence, she attended a women’s Alcoholics Anonymous group. She volunteered at the local Veterans home, she read every day. I began asking her to write essays about her thoughts and feelings, and to my delight, she wrote beautifully and her spelling is far better than my own!
By the time the end of October came, she was able to run the house while my husband and I took a much-needed trip. We have a little rescue shelter here for elderly, disabled and small breed dogs. Amber was able to care for every one of our fur kids with great tenderness, skill and efficiency during our absence.
In November, she began dating a couple of nice, bright, interesting, young (Crone pre-screened) men here and there, slow and casual dates, without booze, drugs, or sexual implications…..the way healthy, sensible, confident, careful, self loving, adult females often do. She was looking beyond their exteriors and going out with young men who were deeper and who were blessed with gentle souls and gentle ways, she had never dated that kind of man before. She was pleasantly surprised that she actually enjoyed their company very much.
She was growing more lovely with each passing day, more strong, more empowered, more capable. She was reading more too. She began to speak in a new tongue, the way a free, strong, happy female speaks. We listened in awe. My husband and I hardly daring to take a breath for fear this was a dream.
Now, I think, our Amber is nearly ready to fly on her own again, this time with better judgment we would hope. She still has work ahead, but, we think she can do it. She knows about the crone path by now, having sat at my knee, and walked by my side (literally) for nearly five months. Having done a little “witch therapy” during the long nights during the early days of her life here on the mountain. She knows how to light the corner of a dried safe leaf and clear a room of negative energy, she knows about carrying the “house” bugs to the door and not crushing them out with her foot, she knows about the sacred harvest time and the thinning of the veil, she knows about the shortest day of the year, and how we welcome the suns return and the rebirth of nature at Winter Solstice. She knows that she is new, and as bright as the sun, filled with hope and purpose now. She knows that one day her sons will come to her, their big blue eyes searching, meeting her big blue eyes and she will be all that they ever dreamed of in a Mother. She knows about the Goddess within her divine self, she knows that she is worthy of love and tenderness, and more than anything else, she is worthy of nurture and Motherhood.
This crone has much gratitude and much respect for her young cohorts efforts of these last months. It is not the crone that has greatly given, it is Amber. She gave me purpose, she gave me a hallowed connection with my Emmy, she allowed me to give a her something that Emmy would have wanted her only best friend to have, and I am warmed by that thought. Still, I realize that Amber has a long road before her.
I have been richly blessed by this young woman, I am grateful to the universe for her precious and vibrant life force. May her path be kindly blessed as she moves forward.