I found out within the last hour that Sara, a dear friend of mine, is terminally ill and hospice has been called to her home. Her daughter and her husband will be her caretakers, along with the hospice workers.
This came as a shock to me, but when I called a mutual friend, who is also close to her, he told me that he, too, hadn’t been in touch recently. She had been ill, and did not want company, even when I suggested stopping by. I just assumed that when she felt up to it, I would hear from her and in the meantime, my life went on.
I remember the day I met Sara – it was at a rally against the Iraq War. I was helping the promoters by holding up time cards for the speakers, and Sara helped me by keeping the time. We saw each other fairly often after that. She came to all my yearly parties, bringing her party specialty, baked brie. When our mutual friend Caroline died, she was there. Her daughter was Caroline’s caretaker, and Sara and I, with other friends, kept the wake beside her body for most of the day until the death certificate could be issued and the funeral home could take her from us. Those of us there, that day, have maintained a closeness over the ensuing years that grew out of sharing that experience.
I think of Bilbo’s song, I sit beside the fire, and the line that reads when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.
This year, as the magnolia in my backyard begins to open its buds and the buds on the bluebells beneath it swell close to popping, I am grateful that she is likely to survive long enough to see another Seattle spring. There really isn’t anything quite like a Seattle spring.
But I also think of the title of a novel by Bess Streeter Aldrich, , a novel in which the heroine suffers cruel losses, and yet at the end of her life she is able to look at her world with love. Sara is one of those people who, even in her own pain and loss, keeps looking at her world with love.
In the letter that her friend sent out this morning, she tells us:
Cards expressing your concern are much appreciated, as well as your prayers, which Sara wants, not only for herself and her family, but for people throughout the world who are suffering unexpected tragedy.
This news counts as an unexpected tragedy in my life. And yet, as I look out the window, spring keeps coming on. The thought of Sara reminds me of that.