Just Before Christmas
I recently received a call that an acquaintance had had a stroke and was unconscious. Until I got the news today that she had slipped from that coma into the long sleep, I could keep believing that she might come back again. She had so recovered against all odds the previous time that she could rue the loss of the hearth rug that they had taken away to minimize the risk of her falling again. When we visited unannounced one day, she insisted on making tea and only asked me to carry the tray. Between that visit and out good intentions to stop by again, she had called my friend excitedly to announce that she was driving again. That was only a few weeks ago.
Tomorrow is not promised for any of us. I will miss her great Auntie Em smile--the kind of smile that has to be earned over many years of good and bad times so mixed into a chutney that the details are lost and only the dominant flavour of cheerfulness remains.
I ache more for my friend whose grief shows on her own sturdy, life-worn face. I'll help her pick up the pieces and carry on. I'll pull out the funeral clothes all too recently used and hope for good weather as we walk to the cemetery to say our final goodbye.