Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beloved Friend's Passing

Some things aren't my favorite to talk about, and although this is one I'd prefer left out of daily chatterings, I want to converse about this one . . . a friend's passing. One of the most painful times on our lives is at the death of a dear one. At best, it occurs when our friend is not well and we can console both ourselves and the memory of our loved one, that, at least they no longer are uncomfortable/in pain.

So if I can begin this on an upbeat, it would have to come from that angle. My dear friend of over nearly forty years (yikes, I did meet her when I was maybe nineteen!?!), had suffered with MS for the past twenty years. She was a brave, spirited soul with, this is her husband's word, a streak of "hardheaded". But in the end, Ovarian Cancer, far advanced when it was discovered (she probably thought it just another symptom of her condition) and she went quickly.
I was saddened not to get down to see her physically before she left, but, I drove down for the funeral ceremony. I'd not seen her nor her husband or family for several years. Moving away does that. But I was SO glad I went.
I felt awkward at first, coming at a time of such intimate feelings, yet having not seen the family in years. But friendship and love soon took over and dining with friends and my friends' sister brought me very much present. It was like being with wonderful ole friends - with a bitter sweetness in the air.
Her sister and I collaborated to finish up a photo collage of Debra's life. It really did rush in a flood of memories - even some so full of love I tear up thinking about them. Some of their honeymoon in Paris, I'd never even seen - she looked so very happy. The collage turned out perfect (although the tablecloth will never be the same), ready for the gathering the next day after the funeral. But the being there, being able to share in those delicate moments putting the photos together, going thru her l-a-a-a-a-r-g-e collection of shoes to give away or the quiet, emotional conversation over the next morning's coffee and helping with rides, touched my heart.
For friends and for the love shared in a friendship, the essence of being there, being present, being together furnishes some kind of healing salve. In no matter how painful the situation, the presence of love calms, cushions. I was so blessed to have been there, and I'm surprised to say, I wouldn't have missed it.
The next few days after I arrived home were difficult. I kept repeating and reliving the sad moments during my visit, even though my heart felt a quiet calm around the transition of my friendship. My personal memoriam came with the entry into my journal, painting my favorite image of them in Paris. A couple weeks later I received a sweetly settling "thank you" note from my friend's husband. I'd painted a commissioned watercolor for Debra, of a rose, her favorite flower, many years ago. And in that "thank you" note, the revelation that he would keep the painting, as well as keep it hanging in their bedroom, let me know again, how much he loved my friend. And there again was that magical "love" word. Amazing the power of that energy given the name "love".
In the end ... that word, rather, that energy, that feeling was all that mattered. And that's all.

1 comment:

Ron Gilliland, CPCC said...

Thank you for pointing me to your writing about Debra's passing. The last part when you mentioned her husband keeping the painting of the rose was especially poignant. Somehow that demonstrates how we are all connected---after all is said and done. And thank you for remembering Rober' and I on our special day today. He loves roses.