Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grief: For Judy

Judy died last night after a long fight with cancer.  I wish you could have met her.  She was feisty and loving.  I met her when I was a volunteer. I visited her in federal prison.  I broke the rules and we became friends.  The only thing bigger than her laugh was her heart.  When she served her time she completely turned her life around. She worked hard and loved well. Instead of being rewarded,  life gave her cancer.  She was the kind of person who when she saw someone clearing trash on the street she would stop and ask how they were doing.  She was from Wyoming and when she came to NYC with her sister they took a taxi. The driver enjoyed being with them so much he didn't charge them.  In NYC.  Judy could be difficult and angry and all the other things people are.  However, she was full of love and hope and gratitude.  When she first stayed with me when my husband was alive Artie gave her the second degree.  I was embarrassed.  Judy said simply, "He has a felon in his house.  He can ask me anything he wants."  Artie respected her and loved her.  I hope he is with her now and they are hugging each other.  I hope he can help her get used to where she is instead of where she so much wanted to stay.

There is another side to this.  I always have said this blog was for honesty.  Judy called me about a month ago.  She told me not to call me back, that she would call me when things got bad so we could visit one more time.  I didn't call.  It was more convenient for me to visit her next month and that is what I was hoping to do.  She knows I love her.  Even before the cancer we always said that even if we didn't call we knew that we loved each other and that we were thinking of each other.  I forgot what I know.  I should have called.  I should have visited.  Do it now.  I know she forgives me and I know she died knowing how much I love her.  I am the one who lost something by being too involved in my own life to make the phone call no matter what she said.  When I do things like that the only thing to do is to try to forgive myself - but also to make it a cautionary tale.  Don't wait.  Say it now.  Do it now.  Tomorrow might be too late.  I'm sorry Judy.  I would have like us to laugh together in person one more time. 

My friend was going to spend my birthday/wedding anniversary with me but Judy was in Tucson that weekend.  I'm glad that my friend spent time with her.  I wish I had flown out to be them.  I can't turn back time.  Grief sometimes makes you selfish.  It made me selfish. 

Judy, here is my telephone call.  I love you very much.  Your courage and kindness will always be lessons to me.  I know that you love me and that you are grateful for all the experiences I provided for you.  I am just as grateful for all the experiences you provided for me.  I hope that we will get to visit again - wherever it is that you and Artie are now.  I hope the last time wasn't really the last time. I hope they have amazing Harleys wherever you are.  Judy once rode a Harley from Wyoming to Georgia with a bobcat on her lap.

I promise to look for the light when I am in the dark.  I promise to see the people I don't see, as you always did.  I promise to never forget your laughter.  I promise never to forget your ability to love and survive.  I promise never to forget your ability to hope.  I am sorry that your last hope failed you.  Maybe it didn't.  Maybe where you are now you are full of joy and your pain is gone.  Maybe your last hope was exactly what happened.  I have often thought of my husband that he died at the right time for him, just at the wrong time for all of us.

Judy, I want you to know that your life meant something.  You touched the people who got the good luck to meet you  - whether as a lifelong friend - or just for a second as you shared your concern and your smile. People always say rest in peace.  Judy - rest in light and feistyness and if you get a chance  - give my darling husband a hug - and tell God I am not happy today.  I would like an easier journey - but still I will do my best with the journey I have been given.

The ranks of grief warriors grow every day.  Let us find our inspiration no matter how difficult. 

To Judy - and to all our beloved dead - we'll take a cup of kindess yet for auld lang syne.

Time out.  I just googled "Auld Lang Syne". Who knew there were so many stanzas?" I'll leave you with these.  xo

My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.

Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not thy presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
with excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect
on Old long syne

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