That's how my family determines when I'm really depressed or in a foul mood. If I'm cleaning, it's bad news. I was washing dishes this evening, long after I usually go to bed. The family was nervously giving me a wide berth.
The news is bad.
It seems as though my very dear friend is finally going to make the transition to the next life. The translation: my good friend is dying. She's been quite ill off and on for years. She's always fought it off, or been given more time. She amazes the doctors. She astounds me. But she's pretty sure this is the last hurrah. And if she thinks it's the last hurrah, it may well be. Her doctors have called in hospice. Her oncologist is saying goodbye. This is it.
What is it about death that is so unimaginable? Perhaps it is because, in our culture, we are so removed from death. People don't die at home, people don't linger at home with a dread illness. People are not buried out of their homes anymore. Maybe. I don't know, but it seems totally beyond the realm of reality that she will not be here anymore.
Reminders of her are all over my house. I washed a pan tonight that she had given me for my birthday a few years ago. Her letters are all over the house, surprising me by popping up where I least expect to see them. Books we've both read, gifts she's given me over the years, even clothes that she got rid of years ago when she dropped some weight and I didn't. I'm surrounded by reminders of my friend. I don't mind; I love to see reminders of my beloved ones around the place. But I wish above all that she could be here too.
She is so strong: telling her children that the end is near, dealing with the endless paperwork, trying to help keep up with the current paperwork so her girls can go to school and stay on a schedule that they so need, setting things up so her husband does not have to think as hard when she is gone. Telling her friends she loves them each and every time she talks to them.
I am trying to be strong but am crumbling away. She has been a far better sister to me than any blood of mine has been. She's also been somewhat of a mother figure, being about 14 years older than I. She supported me through the death of my own mother. She gave me a piece of memorable advice: look your mother in the eye. Study her eye color, the way the eye looks, so that you will remember. I did that and discovered that my mother and my second daughter share almost the same eye color. When I look deeply into her eyes, I remember my mother, thanks to my friend.
I have looked deeply in the eyes of my friend over the years, without trying to memorize her features. Even if I were to forget the shape of her eyes, I'll never lose the shape of her heart which has walked with mine all these years. When she is gone physically, she will still walk with me in memory.
And oh, how I will miss her!