Finding Diana

An everyday woman's guide to figuring out what the hell happened to her life

 


Finding Diana
An everyday woman's guide to figuring out what the hell happened to her life


What I learned from the Berrys

On July 2, the unthinkable happened.  A family was driving home from vacation when a car veered into their lane and hit them head-on.  No alcohol was involved- so don't even go there.  The two parents, who were friends of mine, died instantly.  Their two boys, ages 8 and 9 are currently paralyzed.  Their daughter, age 6, broke several bones, but will recover.


We all hear things like this on the news and say "Oh, that's terrible" and go back to washing the dishes or whatever else we were doing.  But when people you were close to and you cared about die in such a tragic and catastrophic way, it turns your life upside down.  

In my sad and desperate attempt to make any sense out of this, I decided (at least for the next 10 minutes) to concentrate on what I could learn.

Here it is:

Open your heart- Robin was insatiably kind and friendly.  She would greet everyone as though she were really happy to see them.  Even if you saw her at Starbucks 10 minutes ago, she was really happy to see you again.  Very few people are like that.

She opened up her home on holidays and never gave a moment's thought to capacity or fire regulations.  She invited so many people!  Somehow, everyone fit and the house was filled with laughter and fun.  You never knew what connection you would find with a guest at her house.  I was happy to pay her back at my son's Bar Mitzvah when she discovered my cousin was one of her friends in DC.  Small world.

After someone dies, many people claim to have been close to them.  But in Robin's case it is true - she was a good friend to countless numbers of people.  She somehow managed to be beloved long before she took that last family road trip.  No one gossiped about her because there really wasn't anything to complain about.

Robin took the time to break out of the insular born-in-Houston comfort zone that many people enjoy and reach out to befriend many new Houstonians.  She gathered Israelis together and I somehow joined that group (I assure not because of my toddler-like Hebrew), and we got together for dinners, nights out, etc.  

Now, this is just one half of the couple.  Joshua was the kind of person who loved having friends of all different ilks.  He was like a walking diversity workshop.  He drew people in through beer night, chili cookoffs, running and many other things.  Somehow he joined all these parts of his life together to form a rich fabric of interesting friends.

In a world where it is often hard for men to reach out and make friends, Joshua managed to do just that.  To step over that weird dynamic men have and truly be a friend that made you feel like you mattered in this world.

To Hell With The Small Stuff - One of my pet peeves is people who are petty (How's that for a tongue twister- I should have added "by the seashore").  I really cannot tolerate people who are constantly tallying social infractions and who look to judge as if it were the Westminster Dog Show.  Robin and Joshua were able to "let it go".  If you spilled something on the floor at their house (not that any of my children ever did, ahem ahem) they did not bat an eye.  If our kids were running around like banshees, we would still continue our conversation as if we were at an intimate cafe.

I felt so comfortable with Robin that I when confronted with a social dilema, I felt I could just call her up and speak my mind.  For Joshua's 40th birthday, We received a "save the date", but the invite never followed.  Normally, I would just be annoyed and hostile and act like a pouty 14 year old (as if there are any  other kinds of 14 year olds), but since I felt I knew Robin, I called her up and said "Oh My Gd!  The postman has a secret crush on Joshua and stole my invitation.  That must be where it went."  Of course she laughed heartily (especially since they were done by email) and realized she mistyped the email addresse.  She really was glad I had the cojones to call and basically demand to be invited.  I guess I hadn't learned the lesson about class yet.

Be Great Parents - Robin and Josh often spoke about what great kids they have and how much they loved them.  They really valued their individuality and were very proud of them.  They did not try to stifle them or have them conform to anyone else's standards.  By treating them with respect, they provided the space for them to grow and flourish.  They each knew they were truly appreciated for who they are.  Not many people can say they had that kind of relationship with their parents.

Inspire Others With Actions and Not Merely Words- Josh was a vegan who got other people interested in checking it out. I even have Tofurkey in my freezer to prove it.  And believe me, I would not do that for just anyone.  Without being preachy, he modeled a lifestyle that felt good.  He even made exercise seem tolerable.  

Robin impressed me so much one night at a back-to-school night.  Our boys were in the same class and I saw how she spoke to so many different people.  Clearly, some of these people were very annoying and talked way too much (no, I'm not talking about myself so don't even think that).  I asked her at the end of the night how she managed to talk to everyone and seem so  happy about it.  She told me that of course she was annoyed by Mommy X (names have been changed to protect the innocent).  I honestly could not tell.  I wanted to know how she did that.  People can look at me across a room and see if I am losing my attention or patience with someone.  The answer is simple - It was effortless for her because that was her nature.  She really was deeply kind.

Now, I, like the rest of the community and beyond, am still completely devastated and non-functioning. I still cry at work, in the car and when my kid's turn their eyes to the computer.  In fact, I am crying right now.  But I will try to take away from this unspeakable horror, that Robin and Josh had great lives because they made them great.  They did not allow the untimely deaths of their fathers to ruin their lives.  They did not use it as an excuse to check-out and retreat.  To honor them, I will try very hard to do the same.  To be the inner Robin and Josh that all of us want to be.

4 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Holly | July 16, 2011 at 09:40 AM EDT

Diana, you write so beautifully about your friends and it sounds like you were lucky to know them. They taught you so much about life and being the kind of person you want to be, and probably already are in my opinion. Take one day at a time and don\'t try to rush your grief. xxxooooo

2. Melanie Rosen | July 16, 2011 at 11:47 PM EDT

Diana-you have described them so well, to a \"t\". I think about them daily & I was not close to them like you were. Thank you for writing your thoughts on Robin & Joshua. I can totally see Robin talking to people, just the way you described. She truly was a kind, kind soul. I don\'t think I ever saw her not smile at someone, they will be missed. I think of the kids & I am keeping them in my prayers. We were in play group when Aaron was little & we would talk on Friday nights when we went to Family services at BY. As the other comment says, do not rush your grief. Take one day at a time.

3. Orangies Attic | July 24, 2011 at 11:16 AM EDT

This is a wonderful tribute to your friends... I did not know them personally but have been following their story and blogged about them as well. http://orangiesattic.blogspot.com/2011/07/semi-wordless-wednesday-it-takes.html

Thank you for giving me a peek into who they were as people... it is obvious from their photographs and the support they have received that they were a close family and awesome people. Heartbreaking and a lesson for us all to love with our whole hearts be our best selves every single day.

4. Carlye | November 19, 2011 at 08:26 PM EST

Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brgihetend my day!

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