How do you go on?

My friend Charley died on Sunday. He was 34 years old. He leaves behind a beautiful wife and a 6 year old son.

From what I know, which isn’t much, Charley died of complications from multiple sclerosis, and it was somewhat sudden. Although I hadn’t seen them in probably over two years, Charley and Christian worked together until just recently. Christian had just met him for lunch 3 weeks ago. He said he looked great, like he was doing much better.

I found out on Facebook. Skimming status updates, I saw something peculiar. I clicked over to Charley’s page and saw nothing but memos of “I love you,” and “Rest in peace.”

My heart stopped. How could this be?

Getting alerted that someone you know has died suddenly is a shock to the system. I knew this person. We shared beers, good times, and kids’ birthday parties. And now he’s gone.

I can’t make sense of this situation. I can’t make sense of my feelings.

Do I feel sad that I never got to say goodbye to him?

Regret that our friendship as couples had faded, like so many do?

Unsure of how to be there for his wife and child?

Intense fear that any one of our loved ones could be taken from us at any moment?

 

As I lay in bed last night, burrowing my face in my husband’s chest and taking in his warmth, his scent, his embrace, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Andrea.

Her husband gone.

Her bed empty.

The tears.

Still having to get up and continue life for her son, maintain some sort of normalcy.

How much her heart must ache for her best friend, husband, and father of her child. A man she’ll never see again on this earth.

The dreading of night time, when all is dark and quiet, and it’s just her and her thoughts.

The intense void she must be feeling having him taken from her so suddenly.

I know the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach is nothing compared to hers. I know the ache in my heart pales in comparison to the pain she must be feeling.

How do you leave your loved one’s bedside, knowing you will never get to see them, speak to them, hold them again?

How do you return home to an empty house, an empty bed? Their things still strewn about the rooms they once walked?

How do you go on?

 

Charley was a son, a brother, and a friend. He was insanely witty, the kind of person who made intelligent jokes that went way over my head. He was a beloved husband and an amazing father.

If you have a prayer to spare, please send it up in honor of Charley, his wife Andrea and their son Connor. Donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are appreciated, in memory of Charles Evans.

Rest in peace, Charley. Thanks for the memories. You will be missed by many.

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38 Comments

  1. There is really not much that can be said. I give my wishes to his family as well and I hope that something positive can positive can be found in all of this.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss, and my thoughts are with Andrea as she works to cope with her new way of life.

    I try not think about what I would do in that situation. It makes me physically ill.

  3. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.
    I am sad for his family and the grief they must be feeling.
    I have no idea how sad they must be feeling.
    i am thinking of them and praying for them.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss, for his wife’s and son’s immense loss. I don’t know how one goes on, it takes a strong heart. My thoughts are with you, Christian and your friend Andrea and Connor.

  5. My deepest sympathies for everyone. Losing a friend, family, a beloved is devastating. We are so often left mute and flailing when it happens.
    *hug*

  6. I am sorry for the loss of Charley. The unfairness of it, and the harsh anger that comes as a result, can be difficult for family and friends alike. My own father died just before my 6th birthday, when my mom was already 9 months pregnant with my little sister. I remember that time clearly, and finding a new normal was very difficult on us. I hope that Andrea and Connor are able to smoothly make this strange, painful adjustment. My prayers and wishes for peace go to Andrea and Connor.

    1. Thank you, Crystal. I’m sorry you and your family had to go through that too. How heartbreaking it must have been.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear this Leigh Ann. Andrea and Connor will be in my prayers as well as you and Christian. I know how it is to lose someone close to you and it is very tough, but support from family and friends helps. There are no words to make things better, except that you knew him as a wonderful person, friend, husband and father.

  8. My love and hugs at the loss of your friend. The loss of a loved one stings for sometime. For some, the rest of their lives, I know. Sometimes it is comforting to know that we were blessed to have had them in our lives. We shouldn’t cry over what we have loss but gain strength from the time we have had together. You put it so poignantly when you reflected on the warmth, the scent and embrace of your love. Embrace each and every moment. All too often we take for granted the people we love but when we lose a loving friend or close relationship we cherish and ponder the meaning of why we are here. Like the song says, “Live like you were dieing.”, and don’t sweat the small stuff because it is all small “stuff”. Gain peace and comfort in knowing that we will be together again someday. Love you.

    1. Thank you, Kollette. I know that you know their pain. I can’t imagine how one goes through this. But I agree, we do take our loves ones for granted too often.

  9. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, the loss of Andrea’s husband and Connor’s dad, it sounds like he was a neat person. I do have an extra prayer and I’m sending it up. This is a painful reminder to cherish the family and friends we have today.

    My father-in-law has MS and just last weekend my hubby and I watched Hereafter and it had such an impact on my husband. We’ve taken for granted that FIL’s health has steadied recently, it won’t always be that way. No taking anything for granted.

    1. I haven’t heard of that — I’ll have to look it up. Best wishes to your father in law. I imagine it’s not an easy disease to live with.

  10. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Something very similar happened to my husband recently. He found out an old friend had died suddenly at the age of 46. From a heart attack. Leaving behind a wife and two daughters. He went through many of the feelings you are describing. Asked the same questions. And it definitely made us both realize how quickly things can change. It’s scary.

    I will pray for Charley’s friends and family. Including you.

  11. Oh, Leigh Ann, I’m so sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you guys for losing your friend, and most definitely with his wife and son left behind. I cannot imagine their grief, and it is probably the one thing in life I fear most and hope to never experience.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to all of you. Life certainly is too short, and we are unfortunately reminded too often of that.

  13. This is truly one of my biggest fears.
    My mother lost my father when I was just two years old.
    I don’t know how she got up every day.
    I asked her once how she got through it and she simply said, “Because of you.”
    May Andrea and Conner find peace.
    Much love to you, Leigh Ann.

    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Nichole. Your mother’s answer is perfect, and I hope that Andrea finds strength in her son as well.

  14. Beautifully said, Leigh Ann. It is unbearably hard, each and every day, but you have to keep going forward. God is my strength, my comfort and my joy–I will pray the same for this family. Love Doreene

    1. Thank you Doreene. This situation has me thinking a LOT about you as well. You are stronger than I can even fathom. Love you.

  15. I’m so sorry. 🙁

    You just go on because you have to. I don’t know how else to explain it. People tell you that it will get easier with time but it doesn’t.

  16. I’m trying to remember what my mom did when that happened to a family who went to our church. (The son was 9 at the time.) I can’t now. 🙁 I think she baked something and took it over, and told the mom to call if she needed to.

    I *do* remember what the mother and son did after my father died — my sister, who was 16 at the time, ended up having a number of conversations with the son, who would have been 11 or 12 then. He was able to support her in a way that no one else we knew could, having been through that himself. The mom was there for my own mother, as well.

    (I just kind of muddled through at college — he died my first semester of college, and the day before my birthday. There were official resources provided by the university, and I found people who were able to support me more informally in my dorm. I ended up marrying one of them….)

    To the extent that you can, be there for them. If there’s anything special you or Christian can do for the son any time in the next few months, offer to do it – it will probably mean a lot to him.

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