Mrs. R's son J and I have known each other since we were in kindergarten. She and my mom were the PTA at our elementary school. We'd recently reconnected through the mixed blessing of Facebook. That was the good news. I clicked over to his page. The bad news: his wife S. had been diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago. She'd been doing a great job of living with it until the last week. Suddenly, she started sleeping 20 hours a day. Hospice has been called in. Maybe, maybe a month, but no one is holding their breath.
I just lost it. For S's impending departure and not getting to know her better; for J and his agony and the weight of single parenthood getting ready to land on his shoulders; for their three daughters at the ages where a girl needs her mom to explain the intricacies of womanhood.
S is the same age as my own mother was when she went on to the next world, somewhere around the 50 mark. A very different set of circumstances: my mom's heart could no longer bear the weight of her sorrows and just broke. J and family have known that S's crossing was a real possibility for a long time. No easier, though, when it actually happens.
Longterm, all will be well. Mrs. R and a cadre of other friends' moms stepped up and did what they could to fill the bleeding gap. The girls have her for their grandma, and two standup aunts in J's sisters. J has a wide support net, one big enough to keep him from falling as he walks the valley of his grief for his soul mate. It will take time, but there comes the day when you realize that you're still here and still breathing and that life has been going on and the time to go along with it has arrived.
So for now we wait. We lift prayers for the best, we light candles for a peaceful leavetaking. Cruelly ironic that this happens the weekend when so much blossoms into the full swing of life.
But all seasons change, and some more unexpectedly than others. It it what it is, life happening as it does on its own terms.