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Posts Tagged ‘death of a friend’

Peggie

Peggie was my friend. I found her in the summer of 2013. I found her on Etsy. She was a metal smith. She did beautiful work making unique jewelry. I loved her jewelry and was looking for a custom piece for my then future daughter-in-law. One of the things that drew me to her was that she was local so I wouldn’t have to wait or pay for shipping.

My first contact with Peggie was by email. My last contact with Peggie was also by email. During the first contact, I described what I was looking for and she wrote notes then made a few sample pieces using bronze (I think it was bronze). She emailed me pictures and I decided which I wanted. When it was ready, I stopped by her house to pick it up and was invited in. That’s when the friendship really began. We talked for hours. She was from San Jose, as I am. She grew up in the bay area at the same time I did. She was a few years older than I am but we had so much in common. She had also lived in Santa Rosa, as I had. Then her final move was up to Portland, just about fifteen minutes from me. We talked about the bay area, about family, about college (she had attended a community college very near the university I attended), about music, about the 70’s and 80’s. We had a lot in common and that first in person visit lasted over two hours.

After that I would stop by and chat with her for hours. She gave me my first taste of limoncello, which she made at home, and gave me the recipe which is the one I use now. In fact, every time I have a sip of limoncello, I think of Peggie. We became fast friends.

One day in 2015, my daughter told me there was a message up on Peggie’s Etsy shop saying she was putting the shop on hold because of health reasons but would be back in the spring. Concerned, I emailed her to check on her. No response. I continued to check on her by email and through Etsy until I finally got a reply. She explained that she had gotten an open sore on her leg than began to “weep” and would not heal. Finally, no longer able to put up with the pain, she went to the doctor. It turned out to be a septic infection. She was put on bed rest and antibiotic but the wound would not heal. She continued bed rest and the antibiotic was changed and given for a much longer course, three months,  I believe. I offered to go by and sit with her or bring her groceries or anything she needed but she reminded me that she had been receiving home delivery of her groceries from a local grocer for the past ten years. She said she really just stayed upstairs and rarely got down to the computer or the phone downstairs. She just wanted to lay in bed and read and watch TV and not have to worry about entertaining anyone. Her mother had died recently so she no longer had to go take her mother to appointments so she just wanted to be left alone and not have to feel like she had to entertain anyone. We made plans to go out for dinner and a drink when she was finally off of bed rest which she thought would be January 1 of this year. I checked her FB page and Etsy but didn’t find any updates; the shop was still closed.

Today, there was a message posted on her FB pages, personal and business. She died.

My heart aches. She was such a wonderful, vibrant, and creative person. She was a songwriter and singer and had some success in the 80’s and 90’s and lived off of royalties. She never told me what it was she wrote. She has a unique name so I might go looking. But right now, I just feel like curling up and crying. This is the second death of a friend in just nine days. I’m somewhat in shock and I want to curl up and have everything and everyone go away.

 

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Yesterday I lost a friend. He was taken from this earth way too soon. He leaves a hole in many hearts. I have been reading FB posts expressing shock at his death, which came after a sudden illness. It caught so many by surprise. It’s both sad and comforting to read the posts which tell so many wonderful stories about him, many of which I didn’t know.

Many years ago, a year or so after my divorce, I decided that I was going to get out of the house and do something productive other than Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and PTA. Amazingly, the day I expressed this to my shrink, I got a notice inviting me to a meeting of the Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association of Southern California. The meeting was the coming weekend. I decided I was going. I had not been involved with the group previously but I had been on their mailing list for some time. This was my chance to spread my wings. So I went.

That was the start of so much for me. I reconnected with friends and with friends of friends. I not only got involved, as with everything I do, I jumped in with both feet and within the year I was the president of the group. Our monthly meetings were held at my house on weekends. One of the other people in this group was Carl. Carl had been a freshman when I graduated so I hadn’t known him then, although I did recognize him. He became a friend right away. He was supportive, funny, highly intelligent, opinionated but reflective, too. Carl was one who made us all think about a project from different angles. At that time, he drove a very fancy foreign sports car. When he came to our meetings, he was always the first one there and would park his car on the street right in front of my huge front window. My daughter, Tina, was about thirteen or fourteen at the time and she fell in love with that car. She would come to the window and stare at it. During our meetings, we could see her out the window, looking at the car. She was fascinated with it. She asked Carl questions about it. We all got a kick out of it, including Carl. He answered her questions and told her all sorts of information about the car. One day, he smiled at me and looked at my daughter and said that after our meeting, if it was okay with her mom, he would take her for a short ride in the car. She looked at me and asked if it was okay. I agreed, reminding her that she had a couple of things she should finish during our meeting if she wanted to go for that ride. After the meeting and post meeting socializing, she got to go for that ride. They were only gone for about ten minutes but when they returned, Tina was so excited! She talked about it for weeks. I thanked Carl that day and he said it was nothing. He was glad to do it. His eyes sparkled and his goatee smiled a shy, satisfied smile.

That was one of the many things I remember about Carl. He was always there to raise the spirits, support when he could, listen and make suggestions if appropriate. He raised the self-esteem of a young teenage girl when he took her for a ride in a fancy car. He gave substance to her interest in the car and made a dream come true for her with that ride. Carl made the world a better place from his chemical engineering job to his running group; from the alumni group to his Rotary Club. He never forgot where he came from. He never forgot his family, going back to Pueblo whenever he could. He never let anyone down. He gave all that he could.

He leaves the world a better place, although there are many holes left by his death.

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What do you do when someone dies and they are in you address book or contacts or Facebook feed?

I struggle with this all the time. I still won’t get rid of the address book that I used over thirty years ago when my brother died. His name and address and phone are in there and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it even though none of the addresses are any good.

And then there’s Facebook where my other brother’s name  pops up. And where my friend Lydia’s (who died in January) name, picture and comments keeps popping up in my Memories Feed.

When I was updating my old phone yesterday (my most recent phone died so I am resurrecting my previous phone) I came across phone numbers for my one of my brothers who died awhile back. And some of my friends who are no longer with us, Lydia, Sally, Dan, Jody, and some others. I couldn’t bring myself to delete them from my phone.

Of course, this means that I will keep seeing their names and pictures. Yes, I get sad when I see them and they aren’t here anymore. Sometimes I can’t keep myself from tearing up. I know that I should think of good times with them but that’s tough. I eventually do but the tears still come.

What do you do?

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My friend, Lydia, was taken off of life support last night. She never regained consciousness after she was brought out of the medically induced coma. They gave her six days. The final MRI showed no activity in her brain. So the decision was made and, with her husband, her pastor, and all of her siblings around her, she slipped away.

I am sad today. I have few words and because of that, I am linking you to one of her flash fiction pieces and a couple of poems. I hope you visit the sites and read them.

Shelter

Bells In Silence

Newtown

 

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Lisa

Yesterday, while checking Facebook posts, I saw a post I had missed earlier. It was a post made in a group for people who graduated from my high school in the 70’s decade. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with some of the people I used to know and it also serves as a way to remember a lot about growing up and about the city I grew up and lived in until I went off to college.

It was a sad post. It told about the death of a friend; a friend I had not seen in many, many years but have thought of often and have even asked others about her. Lisa was my sister’s friend and a year older than me. When I went to high school, they had been there for a year and knew how to navigate the high school terrain. I didn’t have a lot of friends there. Sure, I knew half the people in ninth grade but it seemed that once we got to that stage, everyone went off in different directions, chasing their own interests and trying to fit in as part of the school’s social scene. That, added to the fact that I didn’t share a lot of classes with the people from my old school, left me without many close friends to “hang out” with. Lucky for me that my sister was there and she and her friends welcomed me into their social circle. Lisa was always kind to me, just like I belonged in the group. She never treated me like someone’s little sister that she had to put up with. We ate lunch together and walked to our lockers together. We sat together at lunch time, watching all the others in their own little groups. We met each other after school and walked home. We went to school dances together. We laughed. We teased each other. We protected each other from anyone who tried to hurt one of us and mostly, we had fun together.

Once ninth grade was over and I had found other groups to fit into and had busied myself with lots of after school activities and a job, I remained friends with that little group of my sister’s friends, the group that had been my lifeline that first year of high school, but I didn’t hang around with them very much anymore. I did see Lisa after school when we walked home and once my sister started driving we would give her rides to and from places. We were still friends. When she graduated a year before me, she got married right away and I was at her wedding. My sister went to college. I became busier than ever as I had a job, was very involved with school clubs and was the editor of the school newspaper. We lost touch with Lisa.

Through the years, we’ve heard bits and pieces about Lisa’s life but I hadn’t heard much about her in at least fifteen or twenty years, although I have asked people about her. No one seemed to know much as everyone had gone off to live their own lives over the years and it is just now, as most of us are reaching the late 50’s and early 60’s that we are all coming back together, seeking each other out.

And so, when I read Lisa’s name on the updated “Fallen Friends” list yesterday, my heart skipped a beat and tears found their way out of my eyes. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her being gone. It may sound strange to some people that I would react this way to news of her death. Afterall, she wasn’t a part of my daily life. It’s not like I saw her or even talked to her recenty. But she is a part of my life. She was important to the person that I was and the person that I am now. And I suppose it’s a reminder that my turn on that Fallen Friends list might be coming up sooner than later. I think too, that it is sad to me because it signifies a closed door. I won’t be able to get in touch with Lisa or talk to her ever again. No matter how many times I ask people or how many searches I run on the internet, I won’t be seeing her again. The door has closed.

I know it should be a reminder to run out and knock on doors that will open and look up other people, other old friends, before more doors are permanently closed. And I will do that. But for now, for today, and probably for a few days to come, I’ll think of Lisa and her bright smile that welcomed me into the group that first year of high school. I’ll think of Lisa and her groom as they danced at their wedding. And every time I hear that old song, Daddy’s Home, I’ll remember how special it was to Lisa. And I’ll miss those days when times were simpler and our futures were bright.

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A Friend Died…

…and I feel guilty. 

My friend Maria, who I never met, died on Friday morning.  We met online about three years ago.  She ran several lists in which we exchanged graphics for Paint Shop Pro and Photo Shop and another list exchanged eBooks and links to download a variety of files.  She was about 6 years younger than me.  She had a number of chronic conditions.  Last January she developed a severe pain in her side which did not respond to pain medication.  Two days later she was rushed to the ER in excruciating pain.  She had no health insurance and no money.   She and her family had just driven across the country from Alabama to Washington state for a better life late last fall and they had not yet completed the paper work to go on state aid.   She was sent home with stronger pain medication.  A day later she was taken to the ER again, this time with more severe symptoms.  They kept her for some tests.  It turned out that she had cancer in her stomach, intestines, liver, kidney and colon.  She needed surgery and treatment but because she had no insurance, she got the run around and was sent home again.  Finally, she had to be rushed by ambulance in really bad shape.  She was admitted. That was the last week in January.  She never went home after that until a week ago when she was released because she and her family had decided not to go through chemo which would only buy her a matter of months with no quality of life.  Her husband has kept us all updated, almost daily.  On Thursday he reported that she could not talk, only moan.  She could not eat or drink or swallow.  She was in pain.

This morning the email came.  She died in her sleep, with a slight smile on her face.  Her pain is over.

Why do I feel guilty?  When she wrote us the group email telling us about what they thought was wrong with her (which ended up being only a part of what was wrong) and the prognosis, Maria talked about her 12 year old daughter and how she was just out of her mind worrying about what would happen to her daughter.  Her husband cannot manage her on his own and the older daughter is not dependable and lives in another state.  She’s 18.  Not exactly  mother material.  And I said nothing other than to scold her and tell her not to give up and to remain positive.  What I wanted to say was that I would take her daughter.  That’s what I would normally say and do.  I would gladly take her daughter and raise her and look after her.  But I didn’t say it. 

Why didn’t I?  I feel older now.  Too old to take on a 12 year old girl who has lost her mother; a girl who has been home schooled for the better part of the last three years because she has some social problems.  I felt selfish, too.  I am just at the point where my youngest is leaving home for school in a few months.  In a way I am looking forward to having my turn in my life.  I haven’t had that before.  Somehow it has not ever been my turn.  And so I didn’t offer  Maria the peace of mind that she needed and wanted.    I wanted to.  I almost did.  I typed the email but didn’t send it.  And now  it is too late.  She’s gone.  I really do feel guilty.

It isn’t like me to not have offered willingly.  And that bugs me.  Am I growing selfish in my older years? I certainly hope not.  I certainly don’t mean to or want to.   I know that someone else’s child is not my responsibility but I still feel so guilty.

And I miss Maria.  Before she got sick just over two months ago, not a day passed when we didn’t exchange email or instant messages.  I know I never met her but I still feel the loss as if she had been the kind of friend that was in my home daily. 

In a way, she was.

 

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