Rita: here (at the end) and especially here, where I knew in that moment that I might well never see her again. But I felt I was seeing her with all essence of strangerhood stripped away and she me and somehow it was enough.
I hadn’t seen her since then. Last Sunday I found myself thinking of my old friend. She’d been one of the patients who’d founded our lupus support group way back in the ’70’s, reaching out to others, putting an ad in the paper and seeing who might show up, offering, Let’s talk. She’d been a young mother when she got hit with it with kidney failure, bam, right out the gate.
She was middle aged and I was a young mother myself when I joined the group shortly after diagnosis, and in my first year or two got my first echocardiogram and saw my heart on a screen, had my first EEG, and briefly had kidney failure myself. I held on tight to the hope she offered and I wanted to be as kind and as thoughtful and reflective as she was some day when I grew up. And I simply wanted to get to be her age.
I am where she was then, in surprisingly decent shape all things considered, and I do now what she did: I come to those meetings to give others the hope I had so much needed.
I picked up the local section of the paper and flipped to the back.
I admitted to myself that I was looking to see if her obituary might be in there. Not something I’d done before nor that I wanted to find, just, it seemed the thing to do. Nope, no sign of one.
The emails came in last night and today. I guess I’m not the only one in the group who’d been thinking of her–two others had tried to call her.
Turns out they had found a tumor that explained why eating had become so hard and she had opted to simply observe where this new adventure might take her as it chose. It was a thing to learn, not fear.
She left us a little over a week ago, and I like to think she was letting us know. She was ninety-two or three, not sure when her birthday was.
I still want to get to be her age. And because of her I can see that I might.
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