Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Memoriam: Farewell Mary

A few days ago one of my closest friends lost her mother. It was a sudden thing. She had an aneurysm in March, the month that Emma has always sweared to me is the worst month, and then two days ago she died. The family decided to take her off the respirator, paying respect to her advanced directive.

I spent a week last July with Mary. Emma, Jack, and I drove to Wisconsin to spend time at their lake cabin. We sat on the porch with her enjoying cocktails, watching the lake lap up on the shore, egging each other on to try a hand a fishing. Jack decided to take a try at fishing out there in the lake, while Emma and I decided to hop in and swim to the nearest buoy. Jack tried as hard as she could to catch a fish--changing lures, putting new bait, even trying one our left over marshmellows from S'mores. Nothing. Then Mary walked onto the dock, cast out, and within 30 seconds had a nibble on her line. She reeled in it and, proudly, showed Jack her catch. We doubled over in laughter.

Later that evening we sat in the huge cabin roasting more S'mores while a big thunderstorm knocked out T.V. We shared more stories of Mary's childhood, her mother's wit, and the adventures of her childhood on this property in Wisconsin. She shared with us her new plans for decorating the cabin: she had masterfully assembled a team of builders, decorators, and landscapers to help her realize her vision. She was quite effective at handling the hot tub guy, who was telling her that delivering her purchase would cost extra. I loved being around Mary. She hired some local guys to fill up a trailer that Emma, Jack and I were going to haul back, full of furniture, to PA. They loaded it, she shook her head, told them to leave. And proceeded to have us unload it and do it right.

One night after having dinner in the clubhouse, Mary showed us the half-century old merry go-around outside the lodge. At her suggestion, we all climbed onto this structure--that no one in their right mind would let their children play on--and whirled around to her laughter. She was delightful to be around.

Only three months ago Mary flew out to help Emma recover from knee surgery. I didn't get a chance to see her on this trip, but I saw signs of her all over Emma's house after she had gone. It was the last time Emma had spent time with her mom before her aneurysm. For weeks since the fateful evening, Emma has been flying back and forth across the country to sit by her mother's bed, reading her articles from the Wall Street Journal, hoping she would awake.

Emma said that Mary's death was at least some kind of end to the hours of waiting and hoping that her family found themselves paralyzed by for the last few weeks. Now Emma is focused on the funeral and helping her devastated father put his life together. I grieve now for her, because I know that she has yet to really feel this loss. Everytime I speak to her I find myself in tears.

I am flying out to see my own mother, who is only slightly older than Mary, this weekend. I find myself clinging to my mother as Mary's sudden death so acutely reminds me of how fast life can go.

We spend so much time worried about silly things, making plans for days that may never arrive. All we really have is this day, this moment. If we are lucky enough, we might remember to smile, to caress, to kiss those around us who we love. We must remember to say now what we think we will have plenty of time to say later. Life goes so fast. We only have this day to remind those around us that we love them. We only have this moment to remind our loved ones that they are the most precious people to us. I know Emma will not regret her last visit with her mom. But, I wish for all of us that we can say goodbye without regret.

Life goes so fast. It is so easy to miss. Please, for Mary, embrace this day as if it were your last.