When I returned home from Pasadena on Sunday, there was a message on the phone. I could hear the tears in my mother's voice, so I returned the phone call as quickly as I could.
Her sister-in-law, who's also been my mother's friend since she was a teenager and her travel companion in recent years, was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer a little more than five years ago. My mother was calling to tell me that last Wednesday, P.'s doctors told her that treatment of the cancer was done, and on Friday, P. entered hospice care.
I'd like to find perfect words for this. Grief, yes, but more for my mother and her husband, who is P.'s brother, and other family members. My mother will be 71 next week, and friends are at a premium these days. Sorrow, of course, for the loss of a life, for the loss of someone who was a sister, a companion, a friend.
P. died at her younger sister's house yesterday morning.
And finally, I guess, gratitude, because she is beyond pain and fear and distress. Gratitude, too, because I have my own little memories of her to hold, a Christmas ornament she sent the son when he was small, the cards that were a fixture of our own childhood.
As I told the daughter this afternoon, while the physical reality of a person may be gone, we always cherish the memories of those who are dear to us. While they may no longer be here, they stay within us.
Go listen to some good music: "No One Said It Would Be Easy" from the album Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) by Cloud Cult.