I’m often moved to tears with stories of tragedy of people I don’t know. When it’s someone I do know – it’s so much harder.

I had a friend (the wife of a college friend and co-worker) experience a health emergency last weekend that left her with severe brain damage and in a coma. She was young. Healthy. And absolutely beautiful – inside and out. There was no warning of her failing heart. I learned about it through Facebook and since then my feed has been full of thoughts, memories and prayers for this wonderful family.

Upon hearing of the news, I started to write my friend some words of encouragement. I typed. I deleted. I typed more and deleted more. What could I possibly say that would convey the genuine comfort and I wanted to pour upon him as he sat next to his lifeless wife?

I waited for updates to be posted. We all waited for updates from him. The update I received last night as I was heading to bed was more than I could handle. His update:

I do not have the words to describe all of the feelings and emotions in my heart. But I am overcome by the boundless love and empathy I have felt from family and friends over the last several days. Although I have not found the time or energy to respond to most of you, I have never felt so much love and support in all my life.

There is no easy way to say this, but I will be saying my final goodbye to Cassandra tomorrow. She has battled over the last four days, but ultimately she has suffered debilitating brain damage and will be taken off life support tomorrow.

The best thing to hold on to in this life is each other. This evening I will sleep by Cassandra’s side and hold her with all the love I have; tomorrow and every day after I will hold her love, her beauty, and her memory with every feeling in my heart.

I am feeling a hundred different emotions but am clinging to love; anger for losing Cass so early and envy for losing a life I expected are burdens that are simply too great to bear. I was able to have Cass for 13 incredible, adventurous, and beautiful years. And now she will remain what she has always been: the girl of my dreams.

I crawled into bed next to Steve with tears rolling down my cheeks at the thought of Eric sleeping next to his wife for one last night and I prayed and pleaded for his comfort. He’s got some tough days, weeks, months and perhaps years ahead of him and I pray he finds peace in knowing he will be with her again someday. And I have no doubt Cass will never be too far away from him.

Hold those you love close – life is unexpected.

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