Remembrance on a rainy day

March 17, 2016

Mercilessly, the rain beat down from a grey sky. As I clicked my windshield wiper lever to high,  I looked up at the Santa Cruz mountains framing the road,  the same ones I’d see on my way to your house with brownies, a coloring book, home-made chicken soup, a book, lemon cake or with Riley.

I was coming home from an appointment at Good Samaritan Hospital, where just the month before we’d sat on the third floor, laughing and kibitzing as you got life-preserving platelets and blood, and then, two weeks later on the fourth floor, where you took your final breath, five of us surrounding your bed as the monitor counted down the heartbeats.

Memory is a sharp knife.

My heart hurt and my eyes were so blurred and wet that I had to pull over. I sobbed as if my heart were broken.

It was.

I wasn’t lucky in the sister department, not the blood sister one, anyway. I didn’t even understand what a healthy and loving sibling relationship could be, but you showed me.  You bitched at me like a sister would, was happy for me like a sister should be and loved me like a sister, too, without condition or regard for the miles between us.

Looking at the empty space you once occupied in my life, I wonder:

Who is left that knows me the way you did? Would anyone ever understand me the way you did? Who wouldn’t hesitate to try to save me from my worst decisions, as you did? And who would give me that “look” that said everything?

No tissues in my pocketbook so I opened the center console of my car and cried harder.

There they were. The gate pass so the guard would let me into your neighborhood without the need to call you and the Santana key ring holding the key I’d let myself in with. We had each other’s keys. You never had to use mine but I used yours all the time, so you or your caregiver wouldn’t have to come downstairs to get the door.

“It’s meee!” I’d call out.

“We’re up here,” you’d respond. I’d squeeze past the chair lift on your stairway and join you up in the loft, you in your chair and me on the small sectional that had seen better days.

“When you finish this round of chemo, we need to get you a new sofa,” I told you.  “We’ll measure and then you can pick one out.”

I did think you’d finish the round and then, still in remission, go on the prescribed maintenance dose, just as the protocol required. I thought you’d regain some strength and mobility. I thought we’d take the spa vacation you wanted us to take together, maybe just in Monterey or Napa, but still, away. I thought we’d celebrate my 65th together this year. At minimum. Because I hoped we’d celebrate my 66th, too. You’d defied the odds for six years and I thought you’d continue to defy them.

That’s what I thought, but I was wrong.

You died.  Suddenly and unexpectedly and without even knowing you were dying.

The shock carried me through the first days but after that? It’s the mountains, the keys, the gate pass, the hospital–all those familiar things– that get me.

remembranceIt’s this, the gorgeous, soft blanket you gave me two weeks before you died.

And yes, it’s the basket you pushed off my desk after you died, the post-mortem text message and all the other signs you gave me that reassured me you were still with me.

But even if you hadn’t done those things ( and yes, I know you did them)–even if you hadn’t? I’d still remember you.

I’d still remember every season of the 30 year-friendship.

People only die if you forget them.

I won’t forget.


29 comments on “Remembrance on a rainy day
  1. Amy Putkonen says:

    This is heartbreaking, Carol. I am so sorry. Your writing is fantastic, though, I have to say. To be able to describe so well in words the raw feelings that are expressed here. Wow.

  2. Julia says:

    That’s beautiful. I’m so sorry about your friend’s death. The way you expressed your emotions — powerful!

  3. Ugggggh….is it so touching only because it hits home? Damn you for making my mascara run….but truly great writing.

  4. Lisa Romeo says:

    Gorgeous. Take care.

  5. So heartbreaking, powerful and beautiful Carol. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  6. I’m all out of words, Carol. This is hearbreaking….

  7. Parul Thakur says:

    It pains to read this. So honest. Hugs Carol. You are so right – she will always live in your heart.

  8. Denita says:

    Truly heartbreaking! I cried reading because your writing painted the picture of remembrance. I love the quote that “people only die if you forget them.” Speaks volumes!

  9. Mary Hill says:

    So sorry you lost someone you loved like a sister. I don’t want to say anything trite or disrespectful; I wish had a friend like the one you described. She blessed you in so many ways. I cried as I read this because I had a close friend I lost contact with years ago. She moved away and I never saw her again. We loved each other likes sisters too. It is like a death in my heart too. Her parents up and moved her without telling her she was leaving. We did not even get to say goodbye. We had not cell phones back then and neither of us had a house phone because our families did not make a lot of money. I have only had one other girl friend like this, and we too went separate ways, but try to stay in contact. It is not the same, however, as having someone to see each day and laugh with; have tea with and spend time with. I will pray for your loss. I know it cuts like a knife.

  10. So sweet and so sad. My heart goes out to you, Carol. You were a fabulous sister to a fabulous friend. Of course, she will always be remembered.

  11. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Oh Carol, what a heartbreaking but beautifully told post. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I know her memory will be with you forever.

  12. Mary says:

    Carol, I am so very sorry for your loss. How lucky you are to have had such a magnificent 30-year friendship. I’ll be praying that the fond memories fill up the emptiness you now have.

  13. Haralee says:

    Carol, I am sorry for your loss.How very moving this piece is. I too am still mourning my dear friend of 32 or is it 33 years and she isn’t around to tell me which is correct, who passed last December.

  14. Elizabeth O. says:

    This brought me to tears. I know what it’s like to lose someone. I know how it feels to miss them too and it’s really never going to be easy. There will be times when you’ll feel cheated because they left first and most of the time it’s just plain sad.

  15. Rosemond says:

    Beautiful words, Carol. Thank you for sharing your friend with us.

  16. Liv says:

    Oh Carol. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  17. Cheri says:

    Mmmmm, I think this is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written, Carol!

  18. I’m so sorry, Carol. Losing someone so dear to you is so painful. Your friendship will never die.

  19. Very sorry about your loss losing a beloved one it is hard, with you in your sorrow.

  20. I am so sorry, Carol. Losing someone this precious is so very hard. Thinking of you.

  21. I am so sorry for your loss. I remember what seems like a few days ago that I was able to enjoy mu own mom. She has been gone 5 years. She is free from Alzhiemers and I do believe that she sent an angel when she left. I was struggling to get pregnant. I fell pregnant around the time she passed. It’s crazy but it’s a reminder of mom that I won’t forget.

  22. Nicole Escat says:

    I’m so sorry that you went through this, it’s so hard to lose someone that you loved.

  23. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have been through a similar situation before and I can feel your pain. Sending you some virtual hugs…

  24. Puneet Kumar says:

    I am so sorry to know. It is so heart rendering that after reading I find my eyes are all wet.
    It is very true – People only die if you forget them.

  25. Riza Smith says:

    Such a heartbreaking story, I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you’ll be fine

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