On this day 19 years ago my best friend passed away. On this day one year ago, Willow Wellness was birthed. Life is funny sometimes. Grief is funny sometimes. A year ago I sat in our waiting room alone after the office was closed and locked. I was feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to start a business and to be able to do it with two amazing partners that seemingly fell from the sky. I looked around, breathed deeply, and took in this space that had also seemingly fallen into our laps. I imagined the people who would be helped in this place. The lives that would be changed. The families that would stay together against the odds. For me, my work is a sacred thing. It is something that I do not take lightly. It is so much more than a job. I care deeply for my clients. I bear witness to the happiest and saddest seasons in people’s lives. It wears me down and demands much from me. I cannot take clients to places that I myself am unwilling or unable to go. But it is what I am meant to do. So I do it. And I love it. Even on days when I arrive home exhausted and empty.
As I sat there on that first night imagining what my future would be in this place, I was visited by my past. I had not forgotten what day it was. I have never in 19 years forgotten this day. I was actually excited to have something so wonderful happen on this, the darkest of days. But like so many who grieve, I was torn between the happiness of the moment and sadness from the past. “It would be even better if she were here. Wouldn’t it be so nice to call her and tell her the news? Where would she live? What would she be doing? Would we still be friends after all these years?” Anyone who has experienced loss has asked themselves their own version of these questions. Sitting there that night one year ago, a song came over our waiting room speaker that I have not heard in our waiting room before or since: “Time to Say Goodbye.” A beautiful song. A sad song. The song they played at her funeral.
This day will always be sad for me. I will always miss her and wonder “what if.” But this day will always be beautiful too. Not only because of the good things that have happened to me since my friend died. It is beautiful because she lived and being her friend has changed me forever.