I just found out that one of my dear friends, Lee, passed away in her sleep this morning. She had such a full life in her nearly eighty-six years that I can’t feel sad. A full life followed by shuffling off this mortal coil in your sleep is pretty much what the goal is for most of us humans. So sadness isn’t an option. I mostly feel happy that her path and mine confluenced for a while.
If I’d known her longer or better, I could properly eulogize her. Mega-introvert me tends not to ever linger around people long enough to do so. Lee (with props to her family as well, each of whom I’ve happily spent nearly as much time with) was one of those rare patient folk who could get me out into the world. More importantly, she was one of the fewer yet with whom I’d occasionally let down my emotional bulwarks. I can count the number of people in that club with two hands and still have fingers left over.
For several years we spent considerable time with each other. Often it was to groom and exercise the horse owned by one of her granddaughters. Sometimes it was hanging with her at the sorority she was housemother of. Sometimes it was just to chat on the phone (and any of you who know me IRL know I don’t do great with the phone chat). In many ways she was sort of the hānai “mother-in-law like thingy” she once described herself as.
In recent years, I’d fallen out of touch with her and the family. I have a selfish habit of shutting myself off from people, especially after a few years, regardless of how much I like them. People, and you know…the world, are generally stressful to me and after a while the bulwarks, walls, drawbridges, and other barriers go up and I retreat to my hermitage, to my quiet and calm life. Fortunately, we live in the future and I was still able to track my friend’s adventures via social media. I still stayed vicariously in touch with the weddings and vacations and whatnot. Although we weren’t sharing the contact we’d had before, I wasn’t completely isolated.
As I said, I’m so very happy that I got to have her in my life. Her joie de vivre was something someone like me really appreciated getting to witness. The pace and volume of tasks she set herself in each day were enough to exhaust me just thinking about. So much of that was in the cause of caring for other people. Having been a nurse, a housemother, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother to many kids, one horse, and innumerable fauna and vermin (aka pets) underscores her devotion to the people around her — including even a nerdy little introvert. She wasn’t perfect, but she did pretty well overall, I think.
So, this is my sad little attempt to say good-bye to my friend who was like family. It’s well known that I don’t do weddings and I don’t do funerals (I was basically threatened to attend my father’s, so I reluctantly did — if I can wrangle a way to get me out of my own, I will). It’s partly out of social politics: if you do none of these then folks don’t feel too slighted if you don’t do theirs (they still get annoyed, don’t get me wrong, but not outright mad). It’s also because aspie little me doesn’t cope well with all these people emoting in ways I simply don’t. It’s confusing and stressful.
While I now have one less of my precious friends, I am gifted by years of happy memories. That gift is so much greater than any loss I feel that sadness isn’t something I can embrace. I celebrate your life, Lee. You did it right. A grateful CJ salutes you.