Yet another loss

December 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm 2 comments



Late in November as I began to make plans for Christmas, I thought about my friend Patricia. It had been some months since we last talked, not because I didn’t think of her, but more a case of the commitments in my life with family and work. I picked up the phone that Saturday to call her. I was surprised to get the message: “This number has been disconnected.”

Maybe I had dialed incorrectly. I tried again, only to get the same message. It was a puzzle. I knew she had not been well and I thought back to our conversation in August when she told me that she didn’t know how much longer she could keep going. Her health was not good, with a mix of diabetes and heart and lung problems. She seemed to be just hanging on and though she was still in her apartment, she was receiving daily help. Had she been admitted to hospital? Was she in a nursing home, unable to communicate? Had she suffered a stroke? So many thoughts raced through my head. My heart rejected the other possible option—that she had died— but in my mind I knew it might be possible.

I told my husband about the call and my concern for her, and so late that evening he did a google search for her name and came up with the answer. He told me next morning that he had found the shocking news. I opened the email, hesitating, and then clicked on the link. There it was on the funeral home website, her obituary. It had been months earlier. A beautiful photo of her and a very short obituary saying she is “survived” by, and a list of her children and grandchildren, as well as two great grandchildren.

How could I have missed that? I went back to the obituary notice. There was no mention of a funeral service nor a time of visitation, but it stated the cemetery where I knew they had a stone. I had been there when she asked me to take her awhile after her husband had died, and so we had gone there one cool fall day.

There may not have been any mention in the newspaper, and because her adult children, whom I’ve never met, seemed to be always at war with each other, there would be no one, except her brother, to notify me. I had received no such call or a message of any kind, nor would I be first on their minds or even in their list of “people to be called.” When I got past the fact that she had died, I learned that her life had ended just days after my friend Susan, whose life we celebrated in August.

Tears flowed freely down my face. Another friend lost to 2015, but one where I could not console her family nor celebrate her life in the formal way. It occurred to me that she might not have requested a traditional visitation and memorial service. Who would have performed her last rites, or did she even get that option?

My daughters reminded me that even if I couldn’t be there at the time, I could still make a donation or do something. I looked into laying a spray of greens on their cemetery plot, because Christmas was one of her favourite times of year, but no such thing was allowed. It would have to be a particular style, and so I discarded that idea for making a donation in her name.

Here I am, only a few weeks away from her January 1st birthday, when she would have turned 72, when I traditionally called to wish her a happy birthday. I’ll have to commemorate her in a different way, by telling stories or writing about our friendship and what she meant to me. I’ve already shared the story of our first meeting with our youngest daughter and another friend. The rest will come in time, but for now, I know that she’s without pain and suffering.

My prayers, as I pass the apartment building where she lived, have been for her children and for a peaceful spirit for her. I have no photo to share except for the link to the funeral home that posted her last photo, but I printed out the photo and notice for my own remembrance.

I do have one consolation there, that she knew God and prayed often. She told me so.  And she often thanked me for things I had done, such as taking her to appointments, picking her up after a hospital procedure, taking her places, including to our home to sit and have a cup of tea outdoors and just enjoy looking out at the garden.

I think her body was just too tired to go on. Our goodbye was that last call in August. An uneasy message, but there you go. Sometimes that’s all a friend will have, apart from good memories.

Goodbye, Pat. Rest in peace.






All photos on this blog are copyright of C. Wilker unless otherwise mentioned.


Entry filed under: blogs, community, friendship, holidays, photography. Tags: , , .

A fine Christmas concert Christmas Eve Day

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jacquie Doucette  |  December 20, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Carolyn. Such a hard way to find out. Rejoice in the memories you have of your friendship; know that her peace with God holds her yet.

    • 2. storygal  |  December 21, 2015 at 1:25 am

      Thank you for your kind comment, Jacquie. I’m imagining her at peace there. The memories will come in time.



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