Having shared the celebrations of Part 1, I now go to less than happy circumstances. On March 29 2018, I posted about the passing of a dear friend Benny. On June 18 2019, I posted about the passing of a dear friend Helen. I have known her since she was around 14 years old, and she and Benny were married for 40 years. While her cause of death was noted as “natural causes”, the general feeling is that she just gave up without Benny in her life. i.e. She died of a broken heart.
When I visited North Vancouver last year to visit my daughter Melanie, and son Simon, I also had the opportunity to have a long lunch with Helen, and spend some time with her two adult children. While she was clearly struggling with her circumstances, she was able to smile and even laugh at stories from the past. A few days later, she invited us to her home for a generally light evening.
As we don’t see each other too often due to the distance, the inevitable photographs were taken and below is the last photograph taken of Helen and I.
Just over a week after Helen’s passing, I arrived in North Vancouver. The trip had been planned many weeks earlier, and included another lunch date with her … and at the same restaurant.
As soon as I arrived at Melanie’s home, where I would be staying for the two weeks, the conversation inevitably turned to her “Auntie Helen”. She was Melanie’s favourite Aunt. She always seemed to have a “soft spot” for Melanie and openly supported her when times were challenging.
Melanie told me that when she was advised of Helen’s passing, she was in total disbelief and in fact sent her a text asking her to confirm that she was still alive. Such is the power of the denial stage of mourning.
We (Melanie and I) did a lot of walking together and, on one occasion, we walked past the restaurant where I was supposed to meet her for lunch. The feeling was rather surreal. I have never doubted Helen’s passing, but yet haven’t accepted it either. I have an analytical side which accepts her passing as very sad , but also as a reality of life. There is another side of me which simply does not acknowledge an obvious fact.
Below is our last dialogue from my cell phone:
“Good morning! Thanks again Helen for making time available y’day. It’s so nice to still feel like a part of your family. Also huge thanks for helping out re Melanie and her physio. Same time … same place next year perhaps? Take care. Big hug.
Thanks Colin. Always enjoy being in your company. You make me laugh. Have a safe flight home, and enjoy your reunion with Ray.”
(The curtain falls, and the audience very quietly leaves through the various exits. Soon the theatre is empty, and the only sound comes from a little sparrow somewhere up in the roof.)