These past few weeks – Part 2

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.)

 

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42 thoughts on “These past few weeks – Part 2

  1. Her lips smile but her eyes don’t. It is sad and the whole story feels tragic but then again it feels encouraging too to see how a soul is able to make its decision and also touching now strong the bond with her husband must have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Condolences on your loss. We are at the age where we are no longer losing our friends’ parents but our friends themselves. Last month we had a talley of four close friends in eight days. Needless to say, it was hard going.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A moving post Colin, especially the ending and your cell phone dialogue. So wonderful that you and her could share a special bond through the years! “You make me laugh..” You do have a special gift in that ability! 🙂

    Warm hugs to you and Melanie, for the death of a dear one does leave a hole in our hearts. So glad that you both have many sweet memories that can be replayed over and over again. Ones that can bring a smile to the heart, even if the eyes do glisten with tears.

    Liked by 2 people

        • Yes indeed. Her and Benny were a very “closed” relationship, in that their life was each other. When Benny passed away, I can only guess that Helen saw no reason to live. She had apparently lost a lot of weight and was having grief counselling, but clearly that had no affect. It is a bit of a mystery because she had a job that she enjoyed. She had children and grand-children, and she had three sisters one of which (my “ex”) lived close by. I don’t suppose that we will ever know what caused her to “give up”. Poor Helen. R.I.P. my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you TG. It is the speed isn’t it. A long drawn out terminal illness does give us time to accept the inevitable conclusion, on top of which the end may well be a relief that the person is no longer suffering. I have often wondered how people cope with the loss of a close friend/family member as a result of an unexpected incident such as a traffic accident. Thanks again.

      Liked by 2 people

      • When the death is unexpected I agree that it can make it harder in dealing with the grief. I know from my experience with losing my brother, it made all of us in the family worry more. If my Dad was late coming home from work, I saw my Mom freeze up as she looked at the clock. She was certain that he had been in a car accident. You watch your loved one walk out the door and you worry that you might not see them again.
        We all had to learn to not let the fear of suddenly losing another family member paralyze us and keep us from enjoying the moments.
        Every parent has some fears when their children start driving, but it was extra hard on my parents when I did. That fear of losing another child was still so strong.
        Didn’t mean to make this long, but your comment just brought back those memories.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sorry for your and Melanie’s loss Colin. Losing a dear friend of so many years is like losing a member of family. The strangest or hardest part is passing places you used to meet up, and our neighbour is finding this when meeting their friends in little cafes locally.

    Liked by 2 people

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