The aftermath was like that. Grief would sometimes catch them off guard.
But there were other moments of comfort and grace. A Rolling Stones song on the radio that made Hutchison think of her father. The wind in the leaves of a tree planted in the memory of Van Sickle’s father. The way the sky turned a soft pink during sunrise on the lakefront, where Olson jogged in the morning, thinking about her dad.
Now, two years have passed.
Hutchison wears a necklace with a silver charm, printed with an image of her father’s fingerprint.
Van Sickle has a gold cross, which her father bought in Ireland.
Olson wears a silver bracelet, inscribed with words from the end of an old letter, written in her father’s scrawl, that say simply: “Love, Dad.”
The women have begun offering the lessons they’ve learned through their blog. Among them: Don’t be afraid to talk; you’ll be surprised how many other people have been affected by suicide. Try to accept the fact that you may never know why. Know that, although your life will never be the same, that doesn’t mean life won’t be filled with joy and meaning.
In the restaurant, after the waitress clears away their plates and lays the bill on the table, Hutchison tells her friends about a recent dream. In it, her baby — who is due in August — crawls across the floor. Her father holds a camera to capture the moment. He looks trim, healthy and happier than she had seen him look in a long time.
“I miss you so much,” Hutchison tells her dad. He smiles and says, “I miss you, too.”
In the restaurant, Hutchison’s eyes fill with tears. Even though it was just a dream, she says, “it was so good to see him again.”
Her two friends know exactly what she means.