A dear friend of mine who used to be my neighbor and was almost a second mother to Tin is transitioning. She was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer a little over a year ago. Three months of chemo and the cancer returned and she opted not to do chemo again. In the midst of all this, they decided to sell their house on the bayou and move across the lake. A move they as a family have been wanting to do for a long, long time. They are doing it – this week – and she is perhaps not going with them, but her spirit definitely is.
I admired this woman – she was a fierce Cajun who took her family to sit on the bayou and enjoy the sunsets for dinner, who ran and skipped and hopped around the bayou, who planted a garden and kept chickens. She was a true matriarch – a proud mama and a loving wife. A friend in need always.
She snapped at me once when I was describing what my business plan was on first leaving my corporate job. Then she called to apologize a few days later. But she was direct, ahem, like me, and for that and many other facets of her, I love her.
A party was held in her honor on the bayou – a party as it always is on Bayou St. John, where friends and neighbors gather by the water surrounded by food and music, but the theme this time was somber. It had been raining all day but then as it does for us lucky ones, the rain broke just in time for us to convene. My friend couldn’t come down and join us, she’s no longer able to eat, instead she was moved out in a wheelchair to the porch from where she waved to us. We danced in the puddles, her daughter put on a skit with her girlfriends, her son sat with his girlfriend, we ate, we drank, we communed. It’s what we do in life and in death.
My friend’s birthday was last Thursday, she turned 50. A time when life is really beginning all over again. Instead, her fifty year old body has served its time and her spirit will carry on without it. I visited with her last week, all 95 pounds of her, and she said, “Remember the prayer beads you gave me from the Dalai Lama, well I traded them in for the rosary, because you told me to hold each bead and think of something I am grateful for, and I ran out of beads quickly, and now even with the rosary – I don’t even know how to say the rosary – I hold each bead and think of something I am grateful for and I run out of beads each time.”