Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A tribute

There are things you can't explain or understand and this is one of them. The lovely lady in the photo was a new friend of mine. We met a year ago when another friend introduced us. She wanted to start a writing group for her women's club, just as I had started one with mine. Both of our attempts failed so we joined forces and formed a writing group outside our clubs which flourished.

Our group consists of five women who write mostly non-fiction and get together every month to compare notes, and receive feedback. It's always friendly, helpful, fun and a nice gathering to look forward to every month during the day. Very relaxed.

My friend was an excellent writer. She was working on a series of travel journals that were entertaining, interesting and very well written. She's lead an interesting life and it showed in her writing.

After a while she invited me to join her book club, which I did. As it turns out we were both members of the same church and saw each other every Sunday (or whenever I actually made it - I've been a tad slack on God of late). It seemed we were destined to become friends - the world made sure of it. And I was glad for her friendship. She was warm, inviting, intelligent, funny, interesting, and just nice. She lit up a room when she entered, she was always well dressed and  had a love for funky scarves, hats and loved, loved purple. She was engaging, and sweet, a wonderful mother to two girls, a devoted wife who supported her husband, moving all over the world with small children without complaint (unlike me) and just seized every opportunity that came her way. She was a lemonade from lemons kinda gal. My kind of people.

So, when I received a call last week that she was in a coma I was stunned. An undetected cyst at the base of her brain finally grew too large and blocked the flow of spinal fluid. Not being one to complain, she carried on - she did cancel for writer's group last month due to not feeling well - but she had made an appointment to check things out. It just came too late. She went to bed last week and never woke up. Her husband called an ambulance, they operated, but the damage was too severe and she passed away peacefully and unknowingly later that day. She was only 41.

I don't get it. At her funeral this past Sunday, her wonderful husband said not to ask why in his tribute to her (read by a friend). He said that we should just cherish the time we had with her and be thankful for it. While I agree I am thankful that I met her, and feel honoured to have known her, I'm still pissed and I will ask why.

My sister Tracy was only 39. This friend was only 41.Both full of life, both full or promise, both religious and good, good people. So why them? It makes me really unhappy. Yet it makes me more determined to be good to the people I still have. I try to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend to the people I care about because that's all that matters, really.

At her funeral I saw her husband bend his head low in grief and her nine year old daughter (also named Cate) put her arm around him to comfort him. It broke my heart in a million pieces. I wish there was more I could do.

I shall always treasure my friendship with Brenda; I gain some solace in knowing she rests in peace, cherished by the God she had such faith in.

Sorry I'm such a downer today.


  1. Brenda was a bright light in a dark world. I don't understand it either, but I'm going to carry her passion for writing on and try to further my writing through her inspiration. Thanks for this post, Erin.

  2. I remember my Dad always saying that the good die young. But it does seem so unfair doesn't it?

    It makes you feel so thankful for the life you have. It certainly puts everything into perspective xxx

  3. What a beautiful tribute. It sounds like she was also very lucky to have had you as a friend.

    How very, very sad.

  4. No one understands it. I've had too many shocking deaths in my life to even try to figure it out. It's the great question most of us will ask when we have that opportunity. We can drive ourselves crazy thinking how unfair someone so special can be snuffed out and a truly cruel person lives. That's why I find it frustrating when people whine about small things being unfair. Really? Like the saying goes who every said life would be fair. We have to appreciate each moment we have. I wish I had the faith God never hands out more than you can handle. Really? I beg to differ with that one. Thank God I do have faith and attend mass I don't know what I would do it I didn't. It still doesn't make it easy or understood. The only thing I keep thinking is stuff happens.

    I'm sorry for your pain.


  5. Gosh. So sorry. What a lovely tribute to a [clearly] lovely woman.

  6. OMG, 41. How sad. I lost a friend last week and blogged about it. How come the good ones have to leave us?
    I'm very sorry for your loss.

  7. That is so sad. I'm so sorry.

  8. Just checked out your blog, as I am speaking at the Brit Mums Conference and so are you. I read your blog and ended up crying. So sad, and unjust. I'm so sorry.

  9. I'm from NY too then went to east Africa now the far away land of Virginia : ) I am having a blog party tomorrow. Hope you can stop by.

  10. That is so sad. I'm so sorry Erin.


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