Let me tell you a story.

This could be long. Sorry. But you don’t have to read it. I just have to write it.

Six years ago..my gosh has it been that long?…my family met at a hotel in Denver to send Alex Michael and his best friend Corey to basic training.

They were going to be Marines.

We’d screwed around all day just hanging out and spending time together before we had to say goodbye. The boys had to spend the night “locked in” to the hotel room and then they would leave in the morning.

We sat in the hotel lobby just spending the last two or three hours with our boys until we absolutely HAD to leave. We knew we wouldn’t be able to talk to them for months and as parents…we were worried. Corey is our bonus kid, and his mom wasn’t able to be there so we were happy to fill in. She would do the same for us.

There was another family there and they were saying goodbye to their son.

Her name was  Holly. Her husband, their son and his little brother, just a year older than MT.

Her and her husband were just five years older than Sean and I and married about the same number of years.

Kids nearly the same age.

So we bonded over goodbyes.

We each told our story…how did you get to this hotel lobby.

I can hear her telling the story. I can hear her voice, and see him smiling with his head down…

and nodding like…yep…

and she was worried.

and I was worried.

but we love them and kissed them goodbye.

Two years  later, I got a call at work from Alex Michael.

Her son had deployed to Afghanistan. He had been killed that day.

Her sweet, beautiful boy. Oh God oh God oh God.

I just fell to my knees and cried.

I cried like it was my son.

I felt her heart breaking.

I ached for what they were going through.

I couldn’t imagine the loss. I couldn’t even imagine it.  I could hardly breathe with the pain I was feeling.

That could have been my son. That could have been our Corey.

Who decides what Marine goes where?

There are no hard and fast rules. It’s just the luck of the draw and her son drew short.

I felt it to my core.

I cried all day. I cried all evening.

I couldn’t sleep.

I finally got up and found her on Facebook. I was drawn to her.

I sent her a message. I thought…I just need to say something. To let her know I’m so sorry for her pain.

I started with “you probably don’t remember me…”

but we sent our boys off on the same day.

I told her how sorry I was for the loss of her beautiful son.

I felt it to the depths of my soul and I cannot imagine what pain she must be feeling.

Her life is so changed and I’m so sorry it’s gone this direction.

She was up, no surprise, at 3am. 

And she responded to this stranger.

She said…

I do remember you, in the hotel lobby.

This day has been awful.

they came, two of them,  early this morning.

I saw them approach in their uniforms …

and I fell to my knees because I knew.

She went on and on and on.

I let her.

And I typed when  a response felt right.

After a few hours….we both shut down for the night.

I was just someone she could talk to who was neutral.

She was a writer, so it was natural she could talk through messages.

We talked all the time. At all hours of the night. Because neither of us could sleep.

And the strangest friendship was formed.

Over the years since then we’ve met at his funeral, his memorial, and most recently…lunch together.

We went for a walk and she struggled to breathe and keep up. We had to slow down.

She messaged me later…they diagnosed her with stage 4 lung cancer.

She was terminal.

This amazing woman loved running, hiking, motorcycle road trips with her husband…you name it…she loved it.

Life. She loved it.

She was 52 years old. She was smart, and beautiful and SO proud to be a mom. She loved her boys to the moon and back.

She was mad for her husband. And he for her.

She laughed all the time. 

She was spontaneous and joyful.

She was brokenhearted and sad.

At Christmas she was given three weeks.

She lasted until nearly March.

She told me I should come see her and when I protested, telling her the family needed time with her she said,

“Ha. They already saw me. I was supposed to be dead last Thursday. They’ve had their turn.”

She made me laugh outrageously with her honesty.

I did not get to see her.  I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  I messaged with her and that’s what we were. We were messages in the middle of the night.

my friend.

Her life was stolen from her. And it is so wrong.

It is so unbelievably wrong.

My friend, Holly, died last night at midnight…while holding her husband’s hand. Please God let me go that way. Holding my husband’s hand. She was sleeping.  It was peaceful.

It was a loss heard round the world.

My love to her husband and her son. They have felt too much loss in this lifetime.

        

photos stolen from her page.

Thank you for listening to me.

I guarantee I’m not done talking about it. And I’m sorry about that.

But I feel the need for the world to know her and the great gap in the universe there is now.

Look at that smile. Girl is beautiful.

10 Comments

Filed under Spirituality

10 Responses to Let me tell you a story.

  1. Catherine

    I am deeply grieved for your loss. words cannot reach the depth of the center of tears you must have for this moment. I am sorry.

    • tess conley

      It’s kind of hard to believe how crazy sad I am….only meeting her three times. But I talked to her so much. And I felt bonded to her the first time I met her. The moment Alex told me her son was gone I thought…I have to talk to her. She felt like family to me. My poor friend.

  2. I’m so sorry for this loss for you and for Holly’s husband and son. And for this loss in the world where a lovely person was. I’m so sorry.

    • tess conley

      Thank you so much Jessica. She was just a beautiful light. And what a gift, right? ….to have so many people in love with you. What a gift.

  3. Tess

    Thank you for sharing her beautiful story. I feel when we share these thoughts it keeps the person’s (Holly) memory alive in a way we can all learn from her and honor her. I pray you and her family find comfort in all the fond memories you share together.

    • tess conley

      Thank you Tess. That is why I put it on “paper”. So I don’t forget…in that way we humans do. 🙁

  4. Jan Coffee

    So sad. I know her son met her at the gate of Heaven and she is at peace now.

    • tess conley

      You know, I’m counting on that. That’s what keeps me going. Doesn’t help my thoughts of her family that is left. Her husband,her son and her mom….and so many extended family. But yes. She must be so happy now to be with him.

  5. <3 thank you for sharing her story. Thinking of you and her family…