I hate when people get to the end of a vacation and they have to run around to visit everything the last day. The vacation isn't about the last day. It's about the entire experience and all the other days before.
And that's how I have to think about life too.
My friend Rini died on Saturday.
She was 61 and had a son the same age as Grace. We worked together at the same college and lived in the same small town.
She was diabetic and her health has always been fragile. Then she had a stroke Labor Day weekend but was recovering. No one expected her to die.
I went to see her on Wednesday. I didn't think it would be the last time.
Other women in the community are really torn up that they didn't make it to see Rini again, one last time. And that made me think about the last day of vacation.
It isn't about getting that last visit in at the hospital. It's about all the girls' nights out and meeting for coffee and having lunch or simply going for a walk -- together. All of those moments are the ones that add up to make a friendship, and in the end, only one of you will remember the last time that you saw each other.
Rini was my friend because she was caustic and witty. She offered me insights into the small town I moved into. She'd been teaching longer than I had, and we shared complaints as well as the accomplishments of our students.
Another teacher told me that I had been "lovely" to Rini. But our friendship wasn't about me doing things for her. It was mutual.
I enjoyed her company.
She might have needed me a little more lately, as she went through a divorce this summer, and when she needed someone to walk the dog last summer. But I got as good as I gave.
Thanks, Rini, for your friendship. I hope you're at peace now. You will be missed, but all those moments before, will be remembered.
Here's a poem by Christina Rosetti that I think talks about remembering the life, instead of the death.
When I am dead, my dearest
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
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