January 2, 2014
Today, quite unexpectedly, I received a Christmas letter from a dear friend. It gave my heart pangs of grief as I attended her funeral on December 17, exactly one week after the funeral of my father.
“Jinger” and my dad were nearly the same age. I first met her when she was a patient at a hospital where I worked. There was instant magic and attraction as if our souls were comfortable old friends. I would visit her each time she was a patient -she began announcing in the Emergency Room upon arrival to notify me she was in the house. Afterwards, when she released, we would visit her in the care facilities she moved to.
One day, after learning that my mother had passed some years before, Jinger announced that she could be my mom-my second mother. We agreed it would be a good thing for us-I even told her real daughter and her son of my “adoption”. Another of my friends and I would go as often as we could to the Assisted Living facility where both she and her husband resided. Although on different units, they visited each other often. They brought great joy to our lives, to each other and to the residents and staff . When her beloved husband passed away she told us she often saw him in the empty bed beside her in the room as she lay sleeping. We were at her side for his funeral.
My friend and I had planned to visit her Saturday on the week she died.
Sitting in the memorial chapel for her funeral just weeks ago, my sorrow seemed almost overwhelming. It was so hard to lose your mother and your father…and to lose my “adopted mother” so quickly after my daddy seemed nearly unbearable.
The Christmas letter I received today was dictated in October, prior to becoming sicker and going on Hospice Care. She spoke of her declining health but also of her hope to be better in the new year. She thanked everyone for their visits and kindnesses to her in the year just past. Her daughter was kind to mail it to the recipients on her list. She had already signed and stuffed them into the envelopes-ready to go!
My heart is still reeling from the numbing grief following this month of heartache and sorrow. I will miss my dear sweet friend who one sunny afternoon saw inside the heart of this middle aged woman; only she was seeing the heart of a girl who grieved the loss of her mother and reached out to comfort me.
I will never forget the mark she left on my life. I know that I am a better person for having known her.