Thursday, March 26, 2015

When life switches from hellos to good-byes

This weekend, I had a message from my parents that one of their very closest friends had passed away after many years of complicated health.  I stood in my bedroom and cried, feeling sad that my parents were so sad, and sad that I didn't know my "Uncle" Bob (really, my second Uncle Bob.  My first Uncle Bob was actually my uncle, and he passed away many years ago and we all miss him) better.  I knew him mostly through stories, and they were very, very funny stories.

Then on Tuesday night, I saw a facebook posting from my oldest friend, letting people know that her mother had died after a battle with cancer, and I sat in my office and wept, and thankfully had her number in my phone and was able to call her right away.  I don't know if hearing from me helped her, but I don't have memories that do not include her and her family and I wanted her to know that it moved me to know that she had experienced this loss, and to find out how her sons and father were managing.  They were there from the beginning with me.  I have so many memories of playing at her house: in the basement with the hamsters, in the backyard picking berries off the bushes and flinging them around, in the kitchen getting Cran-Grape to drink.  To this day, Cran-Apple and Cran-Grape immediately put me back in her kitchen.  Her house was the first place I heard a clock with the Big Ben Chime ( which to me, was just the clock sound at Michele's.  Some days, when we were feeling very brave, we would stand on the retaining wall by her garage and jump down.  In retrospect, that was a terrible idea.  It was probably 15 feet high at the highest point.  I can't believe we never got more than a scrape!

When we were 6, we were playing in the basement, and in our exuberance decided that the best possible game would be "Jump On The Sofa" - not an uncommon game.  The difference being that this time, I opted to do so with a Tinker Toy in my mouth.  I had a real problem in my youth with "things in my mouth," though this helped cure me.  We jumped and jumped and jumped.  We bumped and bumped, and then bumped into each other, front to front.  Luckily, she was much taller than me (not difficult) and the Tinker Toy struck her right in the sternum, and poked into my cheek a little.  She ran up to her mother, a nurse, as it actually hurt her.  Her mother called me up, and asked to see my mouth.  Then she called my mother to explain and tell her I should go to the ER, just in case.  I wasn't hurt at all!  I was terrified of the ER.  When my sisters' had gone there, they came back with casts and stitched and such!  NO THANK YOU!

But away we went, and I ended up with a stitch in my cheek.  One single stitch that no one could even see.  And now, I have a small scar in my cheek that I can feel with my tongue where the stitch was that 36 years ago, came to pass because my friend's mother in her kindness, checked out the unhurt child as well as caring for her own hurt one.  It makes me glad to think I had such kindness around me when I was far too young to be able to express it, and it makes me sad to know that her specific brand of kindness is now gone to Heaven.  I know she is there, with her friends and relatives who went before, and I hope that she is with Connor too.  In a few weeks, when we inter his cremains and plant his garden, I'll plant a few seeds in her honor, and Uncle Bob's, and all our friends and family who have gone on.  

But for now, I don't like the transition we are in...moving from hellos to good-byes.  And I don't like that these good-byes are coming fast and furious upon my sons too.

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