I've written about my friend Anita before. She's the one whose 21-year-old son, Ben, drowned in a freak accident several years ago. She was in Austria at the time and I had to give her the tragic news when she called. She had to gather the shattered pieces of her stunned heart and take the longest flight of her life back home to face probably the saddest time she'd ever have to live through. I can't even begin to imagine how Anita made it through those dark, dark days.
I went to visit her recently, and she's fine now. She did have numbingly hard days and weeks for a couple of years after Ben's death. She didn't try to sweep her grief under the carpet and pretend things were business as usual, but rather surrendered to the emotions that are too heartbreaking for most of us to imagine. She is out the other side now, and life is as back to normal as it will ever be. Anita's one of my favorite people, and I'm honored to be her friend. She's one of those rare people who is literally magnetic, drawing others to her who just want to share her good energy. I am humbled when she emails me out of the blue with some hilarious observation about this or that -- always ending with "I love you." She is an utterly amazing being. Children flock to her like bees to honey, a sure sign in my book of an extra special person.
On this visit, Anita told me that most of the time she's at peace with her loss. The only twinge of anything negative is jealousy -- when she sees other parents with sons Ben's age. At those times, she's reminded of what she is missing by not having him in her life anymore. She said that this feeling is so foreign to her because she's never experienced jealousy about anything before. Having known her for so many years, I believe her. But the first time she did experience it was in the years following a loss that would make many of us just want to close up shop and die.
As I sit here on this sunny Saturday morning, Anita is on my mind. Perhaps it is because I miss being around her. I miss her laughter, her rants, her willingness to learn, her innocence, her huge heart. If I were in charge of the world, I would make sure that everyone had an Anita in their lives. I'm convinced that being in the presence of someone who is such a Light in the world really does rub off and makes our own Lights shine a bit brighter. And heaven knows this world needs all the illumination it can get.