I’m going to a memorial service today. Not anyone close to me; a neighborhood friend. Someone I’ve seen walk around my childhood neighborhood daily with her dogs, her husband, their children. I went to elementary, middle and high school with her kids. We huddled at the bus stop on the snowy days, frolicked in the summer time, attended pool parties and school parties, I asked her son out once upon a time, we hung out when it was cool to do so and gave each other the nod in the hallways when it wasn’t. We kept an eye out for each other: seeing them at school was a sense of comfort in some weird neighborhood way.
Earlier this year she had a stroke, it left her in a coma and her family waited by her bedside 24/7 for her to wake up. That was the last step: for her to come back to them. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility but on Mother’s Day this past weekend she went to the great beyond, wherever that is for her. Resting peacefully, I hope.
I won’t pretend that I was close to her because I wasn’t, but her being there provided some sort of comfort. Her walking her dogs, her waving as I would come and go from my parents, her asking about who I was dating or how school was going, her being part of the neighborhood I’ve known for the last 20 years. Weird how those little things mean so much looking back and at the time seemed insignificant. Odd how someone’s passing can impact you more than you expected it to.
I haven’t really let myself think about the fact that she’s gone: that her husband will hopefully resume walking their three dogs on his own, that the kids are all under the age of 30 are without their mother. That she was only 55 and now she’s just not here. At the age of almost 30, death still baffles me a bit: how you can just be gone.
I’m going to the memorial today to honor her, to support her kids and her husband, and to sit next to my mom. I’ll remember that I’m so very lucky that I can sit next to my mom, that she’s still here on this earth for me to talk to, hug, learn from, hear stories and soak up as much of her mom-ness as I can; I’ll remember that mortality is a real thing and that my parents aren’t invincible even though I wish they were. I’ll remember that life is fragile, that we should be kind to each other all day, everyday, that horrible things happen to amazing families. I will remind myself that today is the day to be brave, be strong, be kind, be loving, be generous, be forgiving, be selfless but not without a sense of self, be funny, be true, give free hugs, pay it forward, give back to the community that raised you, reach out and say hi, laugh, smile, love, send more snail mail, soak up today, and tomorrow, and all the days that I have remaining. I’ll say a silent prayer of thanks to this woman for reminding me to live fearlessly with a footnote to the prayer that we’d all rather she be here herself to tell us.
I’ll remember this woman’s smile as her daughter sings “I Will Remember You,” I’ll cry for the void that I know she’s leaving in the lives of those who knew and loved her more than I. I will lend a shoulder to her family in the hopes it provides them a moment of comfort.
Rest in peace, Mrs. L. We will always remember you.