Gilligan’s Island

This week a very dear friend suffered the most horrendous, painful loss any parent can endure or even imagine.  The loss of a child. The letter below is for my friend whom I affectionately call “Gilligan”  (after the main character from the old TV show Gilligan’s Island ). I named her Gilligan due to her petite (pocket pet, ha!) size, and the fact that she is my “little buddy” (you’d have to watch an episode or two to get it).  Although her friends and family know who she is, I will not divulge her identity.  She knows who she is and that she is loved!


My Dearest Gilligan:

I wanted to take the time to express my sorrow and sadness for and your family during this extremely difficult time. That said, you know it isn’t like me to write a sad downer of a letter so I wanted to start with a bit of “back in the day”…

I haven’t seen you for many years, but I remember when weren’t much older than our grown ass children are now.  We would smoke cigarettes outside of the building at work back when you could smoke literally ANYWHERE outside.  Back when we were asked “Would you like smoking or non-smoking?” at restaurants!  We chatted about boys and life the strategery of a course toward landing your now husband.  Good job…by the way!  Those were the days huh? Living down the hall from each other in our first real apartments, I admired your independence, feisty nature, and how fast you could click that accounting calculator with one hand AND without looking!  Little lighting fingers!  Remember hanging out with Nancy and me getting my first job in Human Resources?  We were so young huh?!  But we thought we knew so much about life.  We were the generation (at that time) that was destroying everything! HA!

Those were the days!

When I was engaged and my Maid Of Honor unceremoniously dropped out of my wedding party…only days before the wedding.  I asked you and you stepped up!   She was 2 times your size so we had to (very quickly) have the dress tailored and it was still too big on the day! Too funny… NOW!  Not so much then!  You were so loving and supportive and I remember that well!

Those were the days!

Mr big
Mr. Big, from SATC

When you finally married your seemingly unattainable  “Mr. Big” long before the antics of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City, I was right there.  I was part of your wedding party and so excited for you! I secretly always knew HE was the lucky one!!! HA!

So what that he was a lab geek and not the suave, debonair  dude pictured here———–>

Mr. Big is Mr. Big, lab coat or dinner jacket!? Am I right?

He was really cute and sweet then and still is today!

Those were the days!

Then our lives changed… we were wives who followed our husbands to other states across the US and lost touch, as people do.  I thought about you often, but in the ’90s, there was no such thing as online social networking.

Motorola Flip just like the one I had!

We had Motorola flip phones with those annoying pull-up antennas, and it still wasn’t uncommon to make a call from a pay phone!  Over the years, every now and then I’d wonder what you were up to and how things were going with your hubby.  I’d wonder if you had kids and how old they might be.  In my heart, I knew you were ok, and like many of us do, I took for granted that all was well.

Those were the days!

Not sure how we reconnected years back, I think we can thank Facebook for that, but I learned that you were the mother of 2, happily married and I believe you were running a catering or meal planning business at that time.  I was long since divorced and had become disabled.  You seemed happy overall, and both of us were getting a real kick outta motherhood!

Those were the days!

A few months ago we connected and talked about a project you were working on.  You asked if I wanted to be part of it…as if I’d ever say “no” if you needed me!  As usual, we talked about our kids, how proud we were of them, how fast they’d grown-up, and how quickly time had passed.

Those were the days!

Aside from social networking, we haven’t talked live since then.  Earlier this week I received a private message from you that at first I thought was a joke.  Not sure why I thought THAT would be something you (or anyone) would joke about.  But, I suppose it was my brain’s inability to keep up with the way I felt in my heart.  You asked me not to call, but I did anyway because I didn’t know what else to do from so far away.  I had no idea what to say or do, I just knew I wanted to hug you so tight.  I read all of the messages and was so happy to see all of the support and love you have from the beautiful people around you.

These are the days.

In your message, you mentioned not knowing how to do this, as if there is a manual that you’d forgotten to read.  I felt such a deep sensation of love for you at that moment as well as huge sympathy for your pain.  Both of which I still feel.  I hope you’ve seen in the last few days that you don’t have to do this alone.  Don’t even try!  Survival requires the support of others.  Isolation is only a temporary solution.  Silence isn’t sustainable.  Think about what she would want for you.  Whatever that would be, I’m sure it wouldn’t include seclusion into a miserable and sad existence.  None of us want that for you!

These are the days.

I have no advice, shortcuts, hacks or experience to help you recover from such a traumatic loss. And frankly, none of us do. I’m not even sure the word recover is applicable in such circumstances.  Even another parent who has experienced such loss can’t help you with how this feels for YOU.  Time and support will be your allies to help you move through.  The only thing I know for sure is this truth:

 It may not get easier (for a while), it might, in fact, intensify at times, and seem unbearable, but you will move through as best you can.

Give yourself permission to grieve.  Don’t allow others to tell you how to direct your process by saying things like “get over it!”  Your true friends will be there during your emotional ups and downs.  They will support you the way you want to be supported.  The will listen to you, cry with you and love you unconditionally.  I would like to offer myself to you.  I am but a phone call away, little buddy!

These are the days.

I know your husband is going through this with you.   Be open about your feelings and lean on each other when possible.

And when you’re ready (if it’s helpful)…

Keep your eye on your marriage.  The statistics for marriages that survive such loss are abysmal.  Keep the lines of communication open and honest.  Speak your truth and listen to his.  Don’t judge each other as “unhelpful” or “rude.”  Remember you are BOTH grieving.  Remember to support your eldest daughter.  I don’t know her, but knowing you, she is incredibly strong.  I’m sure she too is super sad and will need your love and support in days to come, even if she doesn’t tell you.

These are the days.

I’m not sure about your belief system, but I believe that people who pass away stay with us.  Human beings, as selfish, as we are, say something “doesn’t exist” because we cant “see” it.  Your baby is here!  She will make herself known in many ways, from a soft unexpected breeze on your face, to her appearances in your dreams.  She is hugging you, holding you, and probably saying something like; “Mom, I know this is hard, really hard, and I know that you don’t understand, but know that I love you!”  Just close your eyes and think about her… she is right there with you!

You will never be the same.  You will never get over it.  But, you will move through it alive with her loving words, sweet memories and gorgeous smile!  You told me that you wished I’d met her, but I did my friend!  I know YOU! YOU were a part of each other long before she was gifted to you at birth!

Call me ANYTIME Gilligan!

I love you and send wishes of love and of peace that surpasses all understanding to you and your family!

With Love, Light & Hugs,



This post is dedicated to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child.

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