A Magical Grieving Process Is Unfolding In This Small Maine Town
This piece has been written, and rewritten several times. I felt it is best to lead the article with a few words from the parents of Libby Grass. With permission I am sharing a few words from a beautifully written post.
“I want to thank our friends!! Without you helping us through the unthinkable, I don't know if we would've made it. I want to thank our community for the outstanding love and support for Libby. I cannot express how honored and privileged we are to live here. Thank you all for the kind messages. I appreciate them and your kindness get us through.”
The healing process unfolding before our eyes
Over the course of the last several months I have been able to observe an entire community work through a very difficult grieving process. As I have written before, this is another reason why we choose to live where we do.
There's a feeling in the air you can't describe
The small-town communities of Blaine, Mars Hill, and Bridgewater found themselves rallying around the family of Libby Grass, who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 19. There has been no lack of tragedy everywhere around us in recent years, but something about Libby's passing felt different. I was fortunate to grow up in Blaine, but had not been living in town in recent years. I was in a unique position of closely knowing many people who were stricken with sadness, but also being able to see the overwhelming love shown from outside of the community.
Explaining and experiencing the duality of life
Libby's funeral and parade is like nothing you will ever see again or be able to explain. We decided to go sit in town and felt the need to just be in the area that morning. It was difficult to witness so many of my people grieving, but being strong for the Grass family. This was the moment we were able to show a soon-to-be 9-year-old why Aroostook County is a special place. We were able to explain our emotions were both sadness, and warmth. The extreme sadness of a special young life gone too soon, and the warmth of a town embracing the family. Her parade following the funeral stopped an entire town on a typically busy day.
A smile from Heaven? The calendar lined up perfectly
Libby was a graduate of Central Aroostook High School and her alma-mater was set to go back to school on Tuesday after the harvest break. It just so happens that Tuesday, October 11, is Libby's birthday. She was a farming girl who apparently enjoyed the harvest. To help the community lift their spirits, they decided to wear blue for Libby once again. This was a great way to come together again to mourn. Tuesday was another example of the many directions a tragedy like this can take. The grief of celebrating a birthday without their Libby, but they can reflect on the warmth of their own strength.
"There goes one of Libby's trucks"
Throughout the summer and into fall we have seen the farming equipment passing by and I see the flags with Libby's name waving, and it's a gentle reminder of the fragility of life. Shortly after Libby's funeral, when we would see trucks and tractors going by, a little voice would ask from time to time, “Are those Libby's trucks?”. Yes, they are. Then later in the summer instead of asking the question, I heard the little voice saying “There goes Libby's trucks.” I know that one day that little voice will be a grown woman with a family of her own, and she will have an understanding of what it means to live in a community like Blaine. She will know that "home "will always take care of you, when "home” is in Aroostook County. Libby's impact is endless.