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Letting go of Amanda

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I told myself that I could read Amanda’s funeral program when I got home. Then I would be away from the family, her friends and those pictures – a giant drop down screen displaying photo after photo of the last 33 years of her life.
Amanda died on Tuesday, July 23.
I hate blubbering in front of people; it always starts a snotty, mascara mess that takes me hours to recoup from – almost like stabbing a bottle of molasses, it just oozes for hours, creates puffy eyes and assorted random snorts; making my day generally sticky.
I try to avoid crying at all costs.
In order to do this, instead of listening to the family’s last memories of Amanda’s life, I studied the stained glass windows, pushed back my cuticles or studied the wood beams that hung above my head. I flipped over the program so I wouldn’t have to look at Amanda’s picture – her steel grey eyes, neatly combed hair, the blue grey sweater she had chosen that very morning to wear as she had her portrait taken. I tried to avoid it all. Turning over the back of the program, I found more grief: words from her personal journal. I tucked the journal neatly into my purse. Ugh.
I can’t take this, I shoulda stayed in the kitchen to help with the sandwiches.
I was doing a half decent job of tuning the whole thing out until her cousin stepped up; maybe it was her sister, I’m not sure.
I glanced up to see this girl with wild curly hair that ran past her shoulders and down her back, her hands shaking; she kept shifting her feet side to side.
“The last time Amanda and I spoke we had a disagreement. I did something that she did not approve of and she had her accident before we could make amends.”
I once again tried to tune out the voices, I didn’t want to hear about her grief.
When something like this happens, it makes me want to run out and make peace with any and everyone that I’m not right with… The mailman I snipped at earlier in the week for yelling at my dog, the sales clerk who overcharged me and insisted that she didn’t and then there’s that one person who has hurt you…..
And I mean hurt you to the bone. The one who carelessly stabbed an ice pick into your heart and twisted it a time or two – just for fun. Yea,that person…
And then I started thinking (as the girl started convulsing into hysterical sobs), if I forgive someone, is it truly necessary that I tell them? What if they don’t care that they have hurt you? What if they twist it and turn the entire situation around and say horrible nasty things? What then? More grief for me, that’s what.
I, personally, am tired of grief.
I bit down on the sides of my cheeks trying to hold it all in as I watched Amanda’s mother, Diana, stand up. She began speaking; sending out love and thanks for everyone that pulled together during the last 7 1/2 months.
I felt like an anvil had just been dropped on my chest.
I considered going over to the person who has broken my own heart to say: “Do you realize what I just witnessed? Do you understand how precious life is? We could all be gone tomorrow and this is the last memory I will have of you? Sadness?  Hurt? All the mean spirited things you said? Do you not realize this is how I will forever remember our relationship?”
Ugg. Too much grief.
I drag myself from the pew and watch as the family members walk out; single file. Each person is still crying… Crying for relationships lost, Christmases that would never be celebrated, gifts never opened. Thanksgiving will come and go but a very noticeable hole will always be at the dinner table. There will be wonderful memories that were never made, words that were never said and forgiveness for words that should never have been said in the first place.
I did not go over to my heart breakers home as I could not bare for them to say one more hurtful thing to me. Whether it was the right or wrong thing to do, I’m not sure. This morning, as I get ready for church, I finally pull out Amanda’s program.

From Amanda’s journal….
Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.

– Mary Anne Radmacher


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