I keep thinking it's physically impossible to cry anymore. I also keep thinking this is all a nightmare.

Both thoughts, unfortunately, are wrong.

My friend is gone. Taken from us far too soon. Only 34 years of life is impossibly short. Especially when you’re a person like her - the BEST kind of person.

It is said that red hair occurs naturally in only 1-2% of the human population. To me, our friendship was as rare and as beautiful as her auburn locks. She gave, loved, and touched more lives in 34 years than most will be able to do in a lifetime.

So here I am along with others she left behind - angry, remorseful, heartbroken, confused, and just plain sad.

Anger. It's far too easy to get lost in that anger. I’ve let myself slip there several times over the last two weeks. I stood beside her bed in the hospital room, holding her hand as those life-sustaining machines pushed air in and out of her chest, and I was angry. I recall how my jaw tightened as tears streamed down my cheeks. I was angry at God for letting this happen and angry at myself for all the things I didn't do or say before the surgery.

Death is never easy. But it somehow feels more logical when someone has lived a long life. It just feels wrong when it’s a young wife and mom of three, with a life full of memories yet to be made.

I have SO many questions! But mainly, why? Why did this have to happen? And I’ve learned that finding perspective is hard. Stepping outside the situation and studying it with a neutral disposition is virtually impossible.

I can say that I am tired of hearing “this is part of God’s plan." For someone that’s hurting, these words just make God sound mean, even cruel, and insensitive...a far cry from the loving God I know and believe in.

I'm also tired of hearing "she was just too important and God needed her in heaven." That's bullshit. Why does God need her in heaven if she's such a great person? It seems she would do much more good here on earth, where we have plenty of evil people to put up with...wouldn't God want the good ones to stay here as long as possible?

Anywho. Although I’m still sorting through the aftermath of my friend’s passing, here’s where I am on my personal quest for perspective: Can you imagine a life without love? Without friendship? Without laughter or joy? Those things undoubtedly make life worth living. In fact, one could argue that these things are WHY we live and what keeps us going in hard times.

Hard times. Why must we experience hard times?

In physics, Newton's Third Law teaches us for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consider a bird in flight. As a bird pushes air downward with their wings, the air pushes the bird upwards. The size and direction of the force on the air is equal to and opposite of the size and direction of the force on the bird. And the two forces must coexist in order for the bird to fly.

I know Isaac Newton was referring to the movement of physical things, but I believe his third law also holds true for the intangible - for feelings and emotions.

A fairly recent kid's movie puts this all into perspective beautifully. Inside Out shares the inner workings of our brain, turning our major emotions into tangible characters. [Spoiler alert if you haven't watched the movie.] Basically, the emotions live together, responsible for making and managing their human's memories. Joy spends the entire show trying to keep everyone optimistic, as their young human is dealing with the repercussions of moving to a new town....leaving her best friends and the life she knew behind. Joy exhausts herself trying to keep Sadness away. To Joy (and truly, all of us), happiness is the best feeling and if it were up to us, we'd never feel anything else. But in the end, Joy realizes Sadness is an essential part of life. The two emotions work in tandem to make their little human cope with change, grow, and ultimately thrive.

For every emotion, there is an equal and opposite emotion.

We would not appreciate love if we never experienced heartbreak.
We would not know happiness if we didn't also know despair.
We would not understand compassion if we never experienced anger.
We wouldn't appreciate being together if we were never apart.

I'm not sure how long it will take to gain a full perspective on all this. I, like many, must accept the possibility of never truly understanding. As we cope with our loss, we can honor her life by loving more ferociously, giving our time to others and our talents to worthwhile causes, maintaining the highest sense of integrity, living with intent, and embracing our purpose - just as she did.