Twenty eight days after the diagnosis, eighteen days after her mom’s death, and five days after the dog from college decided to do the same, her dad died.

We spent the day together going through pictures and planning. This one is a favorite, she said. The memorial needs to be like this, I said. These apricots are yummy, they said, and it was surreal to see the boys sitting in the same booth we sat in twenty years ago to eat fried zucchini after every work out.

Later, they ran up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms, feet slapping the worn wood floors until I yelled they were being disrespectful. So help me, God, see what happens if you run one more foot!

She laughed and said it was nice to hear laughter in the house, at least. And I agreed. Because it would be too quiet otherwise, I said. And then we were quiet. Awkward. We busied ourselves cleaning what was already clean.

What is weird is that everything is different but still somehow the same. It seems this house should be on end, pictures askew, paint coming down in curls from the walls. But no, everything is the same. Down to the cord stretching across the table so the phone can work.

She’s worried about the fruit. There’s a lot leftover, and she doesn’t want to see it spoil. The boys ate two peaches, two plums, two bananas, and more than six of the tiniest apricots I have ever seen. Your boys are going to be real regular, real fast, J. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but in college everyone called me J.

We share a bad habit of joking at inappropriate moments.

I would take your pain if I could, I joked, but really I wouldn’t. I’m an inherently selfish creature, and I’m not strong enough to do what you’re doing.

I wouldn’t let you take my pain, she joked back. I wouldn’t wish this on my least favorite person, and I know some seriously annoying people.

Sometimes there are no words, certainly not sentences. And when I hear I am a good friend, I cringe. So don’t say it. I’m not. Really. Because only I know that late at night, when I can’t sleep, I pray for her, yes, but I spend a lot of my time thanking God it’s not me.

I wasn’t joking about the inherently selfish part.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Joy_UK says

    I can’t even imagine how your friend must be feeling…

    All I can say is that she is lucky to have you around

    BIG HUGS x

  2. Katie says

    Yes you are a good friend…you are there with her. That is what she needs. In reality it is almost all that she needs right now, is you there with her. Sure there are details to deal with, things that must get done etc…but what she really needs is you, and you are there. Hugs to you all during this hard time. I am reminded in times like these to tell those around me how much they mean to me, that is what I now have at the top of my to do list today. That should be an easy one to accomplish.

    Hang in there and enjoy the laughter of the boys – there is nothing sweeter.

  3. says

    i think your words here are something we have all felt. a family friend of ours passed away this weekend — much too young — and left behind a 27 year old daughter. i prayed, & cried, & called those i loved… & i couldn’t help but feel relief that my daddy sits at home, well. he got to walk me down the aisle. calls me on the phone. meets me for breakfast. i am selfish too.

    blessings and prayers for your friend. what a tough season this will be.

  4. says

    Jules, that might be one of the most honest, gut wrenching blog posts I’ve ever read.
    I’m keeping you and your friend in my thoughts & prayers. xo

  5. says

    Aah, I believe most of us are selfish creatures; but I like to think what matters is we work through our selfishness. That we’re there, even when it’s hard, even when we haven’t anything to say–even when we are unable to “fix” it.

    There really are no words. I bought a sympathy card once that said, “For every tear, a prayer … ”

    So may your friend know there are many a prayer going up on her behalf. She may not know all of us … but her tears are covered all the same …

  6. Sally says

    There’s a kindness and warmth in this house and in your friendship that shows in the photos. That is one of the most comforting and appealing kitchen counters I have ever seen.

  7. says

    Like those apricots and the phone cord, life is in the details, isn’t it? Feeling very grateful for all the little things right now.

  8. Samma says

    Beautifully, heartwrenchingly written. I hope your friend is able to find comfort in the little things right now. I have a deal with my husband — I get to go first. Because I (like maybe your friend’s father) am just not prepared to go on without him. So yes, we’re all selfish in our own way.

  9. says

    You make my heart ache. There are other blogs out there that let a person wade knee-deep in stuff lust and window shopping, but if I want depth and real life (and the older I get, this is my preference), I come here.

  10. says

    Hate to be the bearer…..”glad it’s not you?” – now.
    Having reached middle age I now have the startling reality, Eveyone Is Going to Die. Some sooner than others. Some after having lived a long life, and some shockingly short. Almost all my friends have buried a parent or both. I lost my father at the age of 23 when he suddenly died from a heart attack.
    He was 54.
    I am now 52, my mother is 82, and I’m cleaning out her house and drawers as I’ve ripped her from her home of 45 years and placed her into assisted living when it became dangerous for her to live alone. hello guilt. Cleaning out her house of her belongings that she couldn’t take with her made me feel worse, because she’s not gone yet. (And I’ve taken away her choice) She’s thriving more each day, I’m living in the past as I wash the worn floor with a pure white 10 year old dish towel. Pure white. How did she do that?
    I found my baby teeth.
    tied up in an old handkerchief with both of my brother’s. Whose are who’s? Dunno.

    But she’s alive, and the realization is there that some day she won’t be and I’m trying to enjoy her still.
    Hugs to your friend and to you, as you come to the realization. Hug your kids, Bless your readers and be kind and gentle to each other. This life here is fleeting. Enjoy your days and your nights and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  11. Amy Loves Teal says

    Your friend must be the strongest woman alive. I know you are a big part of her having that strength. Bless you both.

  12. says

    I remember when my mom died, the hardest part was that there were very few people I felt like being around because I was just SO SAD and I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable by crying or being emotional. Your just being there for her means so much, or at least it would have meant so much for me, in my circumstance.

  13. says

    I thought this was a passage from a book… so beautifully written and yet so terribly sad all at the same time. My prayers are with your friend

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