Just Show Up

Dara LevanBlog2 Comments

I wrote last week about a soul, Dave Adams, who left an indelible imprint on my heart. Dave left us in 2007 at only 59 years old. He was the publisher of the Indiana Daily Student when I was a reporter and editor at IU.

What I did not know then is that I’d be mourning the passing of my sweet, spunky sister-in-law Lauren (LP). She left us a week ago—Monday, September 17. The funeral and celebration of life was yesterday. I am depleted, devastated, and spinning with swirly emotions. Instead of writing a blog, I helped write an obituary. It was an honor, privilege, and tender task to capture the essence of our 36-year-old LP. Similar to Dave, she lived with vigor, passion, and in the moment.

We are raw. We are numb. We are excruciatingly sad. We ache individually and as a family unit. As I held those I love tightly, LP’s radiant smiled spread through my mind. I wished her arms embraced me; I squeezed each person with all my love and strength.

I will write in depth about our sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and daughter next month. I’ve barely begun to process and digest this heartbreak. And I want to respect the many others who are having their own individual but similar experience.

Every part of my body aches. It’s as if each organ is weeping separately, and months of tears are still just beneath the surface. So when I awoke this morning, I suddenly sensed what felt right to share this week.

LP’s passing stirred and evoked an indescribable, intense tsunami. In addition to our grief, it’s resurrecting buried memories of Terri’s sudden exit. (I wrote about Terri, my husband’s beautiful, devoted mother in one of my first blogs.). And that’s when it hit me like a huge tidal wave, like the ocean LP adored.

My husband and I remembered who “showed up” in 1999 for Terri. And we painfully and vividly recall who did not. LP’s celebration of life reminded me (and my husband) about how much we value those who show up.

I have learned to accept that some people are uncomfortable, uneasy, and at times unable to cope with death. I’ve also realized that internally acknowledging others’ discomfort with death does not alleviate the disappointment I feel because they are absent. Relationships, at least for me, are immeasurably more meaningful than material items.

So I am going to be direct: Just show up. It doesn’t cost a cent to be there emotionally for one who needs support. If you cannot physically be by a loved one’s side, several other gestures are inexcusably easy.

Send your friend a simple text. Even better than that? Pick up the phone, dial his or her number, and leave a voicemail if no one answers. I have a friend with whom I’ve only in recent years become close.

Sara literally had only a few hours between Friday and this week. She met me at a bagel store in which she couldn’t even eat because of dietary restrictions. Her soulful hug, genuine concern, and compassion was pure love. Family members arrived and were not just physically here but  also emotionally present.  Every embrace helped the healing begin.

It’s such a lame excuse to hear what we heard this week from a few people we thought were dear to us. “I didn’t want to bother or interrupt you so that’s why I didn’t call.” Or “So sorry for your loss” (but via text). It sunk our hearts a bit deeper.

The old adage “tough times reveal true friends” is undeniably true. The absence of and barely there communication from certain people made some moments hurt even more. And in my early ‘20s, I felt it, I saw it, I knew it. But I excused it. When a soul exits our world suddenly or too soon, it’s just unfathomable for those we love to not “show up.”

On the other hand, I feel cradled like a newborn by many others. Friends reached out from all over the country and “showed up.” Notes, emails, texts, and calls beamed much needed light onto my/our heavy hearts. Newer friendships solidified through unwavering, unconditional support. Older ones again reinforced who’s here when it really matters.

I deeply appreciate the hundreds of people who were here for our family yesterday. And as I finally have a few minutes alone, I want to thank my friends, LP’s incredible friends, and even some acquaintances who “showed up.” Your gentle gestures in person or by phone/text lovingly kept me going.

There are no words to express my sincere, expansive gratitude for you. Tough times truly DO reveal true friends. I dedicate today’s blog to friends who’ve become family and family who are friends. You inspired today’s piece—you showed up decades ago and continue to do so. You know who you are. And I love you forever for again showing up not just this week but always.

2 Comments on “Just Show Up”

  1. So sorry about the passing of your sister in law. Thank you for sharing your 2 blogs with us
    Especially under the circumstances you were under. Hope you are doing okay. Many thoughts af you during this time of sadness.
    Love you sweet Dara!

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