I read the text on my phone and then stared out the window into the snow, my vision blurring with tears. What does one say to a friend whose mother is hours from the end of her life? In the evening, another text came. And I lay on my sofa and stared into that phone for a long, long time. Typing, erasing, staring, typing. Praying for words that didn't want to come. How does one honor a life, a beautiful and sweet life, and convey the extent of grief at what is lost, through a few words on a phone?
Another text message came in the spring last year. Too distraught to call, but it was cancer. Cancer, the word that became a fixed companion in our conversations over the last year. It has drained our eyes of tears, called us to question the future, torn us apart individually and bonded us together. The miles between us have been consistently a sucker punch to the gut. Texts, emails, phone calls, and skype to bide the time, but comforting a friend whose mom has cancer is so much harder without those moments of simply holding each other and crying.
Molli has been my best friend since fifth grade, meaning our friendship lasted through the ups and downs of grade school, middle school, high school, college, and adulthood, with new marriages, a new baby, new jobs, new friendships, and new places to move. It has been one of the most meaningful friendships I've had in my life and in large part, it is thanks to Mellani. I was always a shy guest in their home, not the kind of kid to quickly win over a family with charm and charisma. And yet, she consistently encouraged Molli to continue our friendship. In her motherly wisdom, she saw that we needed each other and understood our loyalty for each other. That constant support was a driver in our friendship. It meant so much, as an insecure teenager, to know that Molli's mom trusted me and wanted me around. That was her biggest gift to me.
Mellani was so grounded; a foundation of fortitude and grace in her home, at work, and in the community. She understood priorities and her family was always first. She had a smile for everyone and would always, always lend a helping hand. She was strong, kind, creative, silly, hard-working, and humble. She was a positive part of so many people's lives and she leaves a huge hole in her absence. It is more evident than ever that the quality and depth of my friendship with Molli is because she grew up under the wing of her mom, guided in how to care, love, and serve. Mellani's legacy will live on in her beautiful family; a continual blessing to those who benefit from knowing the wonderful Larsons.