Saturday, February 14, 2015

Funeral for a Friend

I don't like goodbyes. The uncertainty is what pierces me. When will I see you again? Which is a substitute for the real question: "Will I see you again?" I used to try to manage the uncertainty with one of Liz's rules: Always make a plan for the next time before you end this time. 

But I came to grudgingly accept that I can't manage uncertainty. Things end. Relationships change, morph, stop. And then there's death. 

Whether or not you believe in an afterlife, death changes things. Irrevocably. There won't be a next time. I will not meet Jennie at Panera next time. I will not fetch her two cups: one full cup of water and one empty cup for the nuts (almonds?) she saved from her salad for Harold. Jennie will not sit down across from me, take a deep breath, and talk a blue streak. 

There will be no more spankings in Scrabble. No further deliveries from Mother Hurrelbrink's Clipping Service. No additional exchanges of current reading and authors we love--love to hate. No more discussions about our children, our spouses, our living. Or our dying. 

There will be no more. And my life will be less because of it. 

Jennie was whip-smart, with a facile mind that ran on ahead of most of us. Her energy level was that of a woman half her age.Working into her 80s, there was no better editor and no one sharper at catching mistakes. (You can bet that, wherever she is right now, she has her red pencil out, noting the errors in substance, grammar, and punctuation in this post!)  

Of course, things changed when cancer struck. There was a chemo fog that sucked away some of that energy. Then most of it. But Jennie in a chemo fog was still a Jennie to be reckoned with. Even a few weeks from death, she still managed to order three other alpha, bossy women around, telling us what to do and how to pack as she managed her last caretaking job: making sure she and Harold moved to assisted living before she died.  

At the end, Jennie sent a message to her friends, asking us to pray that she have peace. And, though I focus on my loss, and the loss of all who loved her, I am certain that she now has the peace she so clearly wanted and needed. 

Goodbye, Jennie. When will I see you again? 


Blogger Louise Williams said...

Beautiful, Liz. Thanks for this tribute to Jennie and to your friendship.

9:15 AM  

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