I thought about Carol today. I was driving to Walmart, listening to the radio, thinking about the long list of errands for the day and I thought about her. I thought about the last time that I saw her, laying in a hospital bed, only it was in the living room of her home, stretched longways in front of her bay window so that the entire bed was awash in the warmth of natural sunlight. Every time she stirred, I would sit upright, listen intently for cues to her current need, dutifully adjust the blanket or pillow, bring the straw to her lips if she asked, or just wait for her to settle down again. Mostly we all just sat around her listening to her breathing. Sometimes labored with an occasional cough or gasp.
This was hard. The dying process is almost unbearable for the one who has to bear witness. My mother’s death only took moments, Carol’s took weeks.
The morning that she passed, her daughter texted me that she was peaceful. I almost missed it. I thought, oh, good, she is having a good morning. It didn’t even dawn on me that she died. It was a slow realization. Carol. Died.
Carol. One of the best friends I have ever known. She was almost twice my age. Her daughters were my age. Carol. Always ready for fun. She never tired. Girls weekend in Vegas. Spontaneous Karaoke with a house band in Memphis (or was that Erin?). Night on the town in Fort Lauderdale. Beach trips. Long talks over Starbucks. Shopping trips where she’d buy another pair of white jeans. French manicured fingers and toes.
That laugh. Followed by “Girl, you are crazy!” Followed by more laughter.
Always searching for true love. Always waiting on a break. She worked so hard. She had so much tragedy in her life, but it never dampened her spirit. She was so alive. So grateful. So thoughtful. So joyful. Carol. I miss you, girl.
When I left her for the last time, I told her I loved her. I told her that I’d see her again. I told her that I couldn’t wait to have more adventures with her heaven. And she smiled at me, tears in her eyes. She knew. It wouldn’t be long.