Does it matter in the long run? I lost a friend this past weekend. A friend who didn’t deserve the hand dealt to her. At least not from my viewpoint. She was one of the good ones. They say, “Only the good die young.” Well, she wasn’t so young, but she was good.
I met Eilleen back in the late 90s. She was a cyber friend, you see. I never met her in person. I tried to last summer when Jim and I went up to Connecticut to visit his children. Eilleen lived in Scituate, MA. Not so far away. But, we couldn’t hook up. She was in the process of moving from her 100+ year old house. I didn’t have a cell number, so I never reached her. It was on my bucket list to meet face to face with a woman who made a big impact on me and my life. I was so disappointed.
We met in a Yahoo group for spouses of suicides. In real life, if you lose a spouse to cancer, heart disease or any number of physical ailments, everyone you know is sympathetic and understanding. But suicide is different. People tend to vacate your life – quickly. Blame is placed. Fingers are pointed. No one understands how hard you worked to keep your spouse going. They often think you pushed them toward their decision. Ergo, thank heavens for the Internet and “closed” groups like the one I joined. What a Godsend! Here we poured out our grief – our fears – our anger – and our compassion for the others in the group. People understood! People were going through the same things!
Eilleen was one of those who showed more than her share of compassion. She and her children were surviving their own nightmare, but it didn’t stop her from taking time everyday to encourage others to forge ahead. I was one of those she encouraged. She gave me hope. And since her husband had been an attorney, she was able to help me understand some of the legal aspects of what I needed to know.
Not only did her husband leave her with financial issues, like mine did me, but she developed MS. She was an art teacher for a private school and as her disease began to create more physical issues for her, the headmaster made her life miserable to the point of having to pursue things in court. Finally, she ended up in a wheel chair and I believe it was a year ago that she lost her job, once and for all – at a time when she was fighting vainly in the hospital to regain her health.
The one wonderful thing that happened to her was having a wonderful man enter her life. Someone she could count on to help her, both physically and emotionally. I invited them many times to come stay at my beach place. I wish they had come. I really wish they had come.
Since losing her job and that stint in the hospital, she found herself in the hospital several more times for varying lengths of time. Too many times. Her time, after all, was becoming limited.
On February 2nd, she was in ICU with a bad infection and on February 5th, she passed on. If Facebook posts from her friends, fellow teachers and more importantly, her students, are any indication of having made an impact on people’s lives, then Eilleen passed with flying colors.
Rest in peace, my friend. I’m grateful for having had your friendship. And while we didn’t meet in this life, we will most certainly meet in the next one.