November 08, 2005

Loss

I had the unnerving experience of arriving at work yesterday morning to find a letter from Carole informing me that she had seen Kate's obituary. We hadn't known that Kate had died - my other email account contained a three-word message from Holly: "Please call me."

Apparently gone for an entire month already. How does a human being fall out of life and not make a sound? On Saturday, we talked about her quite a bit. Perhaps that should have tipped us off. Maybe that was the ripple in the pool that we should have paid attention to. The fact that strangers (to us) in Washington wrote of this before the friends in New York knew of it seems strange.

As much as I knew that this was in the stars, I find myself feeling surprised. When I last saw her in June, I came home and told Jim that Kate was dying. I saw her death as surely as I saw my parents' in those last few months when the body has used up its last defenses and nature begins to assert herself over the process; I saw it in her gradual disconnect from the day-to-day business of living. And yet, I am shocked to find her gone. Our correspondence over these last few months was briefer than usual, as if she either didn't have the strength for it, or she didn't want to tip her hand, lest I nag her one more time to seek medical help. In the end, I decided to stop doing that. I'm not sure, will never be sure, that it was the right decision. I only know that 56 is far too young to die, and that there exists the possibility that this particular death was needless. I wish I had some way of knowing that she had gone to the Christian Science nursing facility - I would have liked to spend some time there, to have said good-bye. I wish I had been a better friend.

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