“I wish I had called more.”
This was the line that officially broke me into a mess of sobbing tears. There were hundreds of heartbreaking thoughts and sentiments on my very first Zoom memorial, but for some reason, this one tore down any semblance of control that I had over my emotions.
Devastatingly, a college friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. I received the shocking news in a group text with nine of my closest friends. It was absolutely heartbreaking for me, but was equally painful to watch my favorite women answer one by one about how shattering this loss was for each one of them.
She was too young, too important, and too wonderful to lose her life at 41. She had two small kids, a husband and a community of people who loved her to the ends of the earth.
She was a one-of-kind soul that made everyone around her feel loved and important.
She was someone who could make you feel like the most important person in a room full of people. She was the friend who made your birthday, anniversary, or even a Friday night out exceptional. She was the mom who made every experience for her kids bigger and better than the rest.
This was no ordinary woman. She was magnetizing, and beautiful inside and out. She was small in size but mighty in spirit. She commanded a room in a way that only the most unique souls can do. She loved endlessly, and if you knew her, you felt it.
She was the embodiment of life, so seeing hers cut short feels like the ultimate test of resolve and understanding. How did this happen? How do you move on?
And to add this devastating blow, her friends and family are forced to mourn alone in their homes because of the mandated quarantine. They cannot hug each other, comfort each other or simply cry side-by-side with each other. They are separated during the absolute worst moment of their life, and forced to find ways to survive on their own.
Yet in all of this devastation, something happened that felt very unique and remarkable – ironically, just like she was.
Her family and close friends organized a Zoom memorial at what felt like lightning speed, and they miraculously spread the word via social media, text messages, emails and phone calls to all who loved her.
In just a few days after her passing, we were all sitting at home on our phones, tablets and computers nervously waiting to see just how someone could possibly virtually memorialize a woman this phenomenal.
A slideshow started the service with image after image detailing the moments of her life. This made me smile, laugh and mournfully grieve. My heart burst with happiness over seeing her smiling face with so many others, and broke it straight in half at the thought of her not being here anymore to see her kids grow.
After some scripture and song, her mom, sisters, and some friends each individually shared letters and memories of her. Everyone cried, some broke down and others even found ways to smile and laugh. It unexpectedly made you feel like a part of their journey with her, and gave you the privilege of seeing her life through their eyes.
Her husband spoke last; it was a moment we had all been waiting for. His arms were strongly wrapped around their two young kids with affection flowing constantly between the three of them. He was somehow the clearest of all while speaking about the importance of her life, and about how desperately they all will miss her. I do not know what the right thing was to say in this moment, but I can tell you that what he said was pretty close to flawless.
Every life she touched was virtually there at the memorial. There was no restriction to the number of people attending, and there were no limitations to anyone with travel, money or time. People from all over the globe got to be there to pay tribute to this beautiful soul.
They were able to love her from afar, and mourn in a virtual community. We were not able to touch each other, but we were all still very much emotionally touched by the sheer magnitude of love that flowed in that service.
Her life will never be forgotten, and the pain will linger forever for many of us. However there will come a day in the not-to-distant future where we can gather physically to remember this extraordinary woman.
Yet for now, I feel honored to get to partake in this beautiful memorial service. I am honored that her family felt the need to share this with all of us. She is a life worth celebrating over and over, and this virtual memorial was a beautiful way to start.
I know with time this isolation will end, but for now, we all need to continue to connect in the joy and sadness of life. We may be separated physically, but that should not stop us from connecting emotionally.
Because remember, in honor of my wonderful friend, we all really should find ways to call each other more.