Wednesday my dear friend took her final bow. She was surrounded by love and encouraged to take that last step forward into her next chapter with prayers in Portuguese, Hail Marys, Amazing Grace, whispers in her ear and gentle caresses. Even in those final hours her house was filled with people shedding tears, sharing love, and quiet laughter. I joked that she always did like to be the center of attention and how she would tell us to come for dinner at five and we wouldn’t eat until nine. She would have loved it.
It was not easy for any of us… leaving this life seemed just as hard as the labor of beginning it. But I am not drenched in grief… my heart aches for her children and husband… for her sister… for myself at times… and for all that are struggling to cope with the hole she left behind.
I miss my friend terribly… I stopped during my ride where we often stopped and took this picture… she should be on my left shoulder smiling back… she was the one with the fancy phone so she usually took the selfies of us on rides… she liked to stop there to look at the river, stretch her back or neck, have a snack and check for messages from her kids. Our rides were spent talking about life, our children, plans for the future and how lucky we were to be enjoying this beautiful place together. She often talked about wanting to go back and live in Brazil, but on one of our last rides together she told me she had changed her mind. It was the summer before she got sick and we were on a beautiful ride together and she just said “I’m happy here, I don’t need to move back… this is my home.” – or something close to that… little did we know that she would get sick in the winter… maybe deep inside she already knew that she would live the rest of her life here.
In that moment it seemed sudden, but she really left us ever so slowly… in tiny pieces that left us wrung out from over a year of loss… maybe that made my final goodbye a bit easier to take because I have spent a year saying goodbye to her bit by bit. My friends and I curtsied as she was taken away… life will go on, we will laugh, cry, tell crazy stories and even dance… but it will never be the same… she was the welcoming smile, the invitation to join in, the driving force, and the creative sparkle in any circumstance…. that hole will never be filled… but it will be honored…