It didn’t happen.

I had these lofty ideas about finally completing NaBloWriMo.

Then my friend died.

We weren’t great friends. I can’t even really say we were good ones. We were coworkers. Comrades. We didn’t throw back margaritas after work or flip our boss off behind her back (1. We work remotely; 2. Our boss is wonderful).

What we did do was share an understanding. Our Slack messages were always funny, our lighthearted complaints about work the silly back-and-forth banter that makes work, even in its most mundane moments, breathable.

Then, on an otherwise plain November morning, our boss called an emergency meeting. Through sorrowful tears that made her voice barely audible, I heard the words, “I have horrible news — Amanda died.”

Amanda? How? Why?

Amanda — the one who brought the laughter to our meetings. The one who made me feel welcome when I started at this job two years ago. The one with whom I had a special understanding, our child-free lifestyles making us more comparable than other teammates.

I didn’t get a goodbye. We didn’t get a goodbye. Life is cruel like that.

One day we were discussing repurping content and filling in for each other during upcoming vacations…the next minute I’m seeing pictures of her memorial service and taking over part of her line up.

For the last two months I have been writing in real journals, exploring my feelings in the primal, private way only pen and paper affords you. What I have discovered about myself — so far — is that my passion for life is starting to spill over.

Life is fast and short, and if you don’t inhale it now, you’ll lose it forever.

I get it.

I used to think you had to absorb the old pieces of yourself, chew them up, spit them out until they were no longer a part of you. Clean breaks, perfect lines. No baggage on the other end.

I was wrong.

Chew them up. Swallow them whole. Make them so intricately woven into your being that the work of art that is your collective experience is a garden of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.