When the nurse called my name to take me back into surgical waiting for a minor procedure, my heart skipped a beat. “Dorothea” she said, looking directly at me since no one else was in the waiting room. “You mean Deborah?” I said. “Oh yes, Deborah. Sorry I thought it said Dorothea.”
That normally would have meant nothing – mispronouncing my name. But it mattered then, because my friend Dorothea just died — and her wake was that exact evening. Clear out of the blue, boom, dead just a few days earlier. And the nurse called out her name.
If that doesn’t make you believe in angels, or some sort of cosmic Divine, not sure what would. I could tell you about my bathroom light flickering like crazy although the bulb wasn’t burned out just as she was crossing realms and I didn’t know it. Or how I heard her voice talk to me as if she were right there next to me. Maybe she was.
I was sitting at a stop light adjacent to my son’s preschool, where he went 20 years ago, and could hear the wee ones playing on the playground, just like it sounded back then. It was an Indian Summer day, sun shining, the leaves on the tree-lined street turning shades of beautiful autumn. I closed my eyes and let the breeze drift through the car window as I waited, listened, and remembered.
“I’m ok Debbie. I’m ok” she said.
That’s where I met my friend Dorothea – Dottie. We were young moms, similar in age, our boys were in the same preschool class. They became fast friends, and so did we. We spent the next decade as BFFs, just like our kids, and even our husbands.
When I opened my Facebook last week to quickly check messages there was the post by her son, only minutes old at the top of my feed. I burst into tears. It was visceral, I didn’t even know where it came from. I fell out of touch with her a few years ago, not by choice, sometimes life just gets so crazy. She was now divorced, I was now remarried, our boys are all grown up.
But I was excited to see her again – when we recently moved back home we were going to reconnect. Not anymore, I didn’t get the chance to say hello…or goodbye. This circle of life thing is something. But it is what it is. And life is life, in all of it’s joy, sorrow and baffling unpredictability.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I have never experienced the death of a friend. Loss of friends, sure, but as cliche as this sounds, with life there is hope. Although I hate cliches, especially when there is some kind of tragedy. Like there is nothing but the present moment. We all know this, intellectually we all know tomorrow is only a promise (another one,) but let’s be honest. Who really lives like that?
They’re not really sure what happened, and I will never know. I just knew my old friend who had a big smile and an infectious laugh. Someone who loved her son more than life itself. Someone who was there with me for a lot of years, in all of our unrefined glory.
Anyway, peace to you dear friend. And as they say, life goes on.