A dear friend’s husband died last Friday.  She and I worked together when I lived in California.  My husband and I bought a home in the same town she and her husband lived in when we met. 

PJ is such a special woman.  She earned her Ph.D. in organizational development when she was well into her 50s.  Age never mattered much to her.  Her boundless energy propelled her in several directions at once, all the time.

When she married H., it never bothered her that he was quite a bit older than she was.  No one has an expiration date stamped on their buttocks, she’d say.  What mattered to her was his heart – the kind that determines one’s character.

The last time I saw PJ, we treated ourselves to a lost weekend in New York City.  She flew from California and I flew from Atlanta.  When we met at the hotel, it was as if no time at all had passed since our prior face-to-face encounter.

We have a lot in common.  She is of Mexican descent, so she has suffered as much discrimination in life as I have as a black woman.  H. was of Portuguese extraction, and while not nearly as pronounced as for PJ and me, he took his share of ethnic slurs.  But none of the three of us allowed any of that to prevent us from setting goals and reaching them. 

Both PJ and H. were soft-spoken and calming.  Whereas I am a true Type A personality, they hovered in the Type B serenity that often served to rein me in.  In short, they are, or were, one of those rare couples that remained madly in love until H.’s very last breath.

I just called PJ.  She answered, “Hi, L.”  Her voice was quivery.  Mine was nowhere to be found.  I finally squeaked out a shaky “how are you doing, Sweetheart?” 

“Funny you should call at this very moment,” she said in that calm, melodious voice of hers.  “I am standing in front of H.’s cremains.  I’m in the process of picking up the urn.”

My heart slammed into the bottom of my gut.  Great, I thought.  Timing is everything, and yours, L, sucks!

“No, it’s perfect timing,” she said, ever the lady, ever the fixer.  “It’s so good to hear your voice.”

No matter how many times I encounter this inevitability – death – I have yet to find a collection of words that come even close to suiting the occasion. 

“I am so sorry, PJ.  I have so many wonderful memories of you and H together.”

That’s it.  That’s all I could muster, except for croaking through the onset of my tearfulness, “I love you, PJ.”

Her tears started then.  I knew she wouldn’t hold me responsible for them, but I felt like crap anyway. 

I guess this is always going to be one of those times when nothing – no words or gestures – will seem good enough to reach the level of gravitas a death commands.

Views: 124

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 6, 2013 at 2:22pm

You're a good friend to have. 

Comment by Arthur James on December 6, 2013 at 2:36pm


I agree with Jonathan W. I just heard a Neighbor died.

He's (Home) just down the road from the greens farm.

He married a younger woman, planted a small orchard,

and died suddenly. Suddenly Folks Gasp a Last Breath.


I was surprised to see ` Sigh` House For Sale By Owner.

I mentioned it to my son who informed me of a sad Death.

He'd trap ` Polecats, and make a ` Old Fashion Bunny Trap.

The cats, skunks, rabbits, and groundhogs set-off Trap Door.

It's sad to sea. A Trap Shakes as The scared Creature Freaks.

It is a good idea to cook in cracked crock-pot for Congress?

Comment by koshersalaami on December 6, 2013 at 2:36pm

It won't. Words don't do it. Not up to the task. You're better off if you don't expect them to be.

Comment by James Mark Emmerling on December 6, 2013 at 2:40pm

my upstairs neighbor died. a certain mz. regina. 80 plus.

she was the surrogate mother of a friend of mine, a fine handsome African American dude who was stuck with a hepatitis needle once.

when a health care worker...

ay the absurd tragedy of this life.


Comment by alsoknownas on December 6, 2013 at 4:01pm

PJ is correct. Your timing was perfect.

Comment by Poor Woman on December 7, 2013 at 12:21pm

It can't have escaped your friend how you've always cared, so I'm sure she gets just how stricken you are by grief over her husband's passing.

Also, what aka said.

Spot on.

Comment by Kathy Knechtges on December 9, 2013 at 2:33pm

friends reaching out in whatever way is exactly what she needed


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