You see. I've come to what the French call un femme de certain age - a woman, mature. There's a point where we all start to watch the obituaries to see if there are familiar names. Sometimes, we hit the jackpot by attention. Other times, if we keep our friends close, we know when their bans to the Pearly Gates will appear in the paper.
I have three of my girls on the edge of check out at this time. Oh. There is always the occasional surprise where one of us 'young chicks' will phase out before our time in a sudden accident. Like SIDS, the mature can go too, unannounced, unexpected, and unwarranted.
I have one in hospital. Critical care unit in town. I'm too chicken shit to call and find out her status because I've promised her that if she dies, I'll kill her. Afraid I'll have to follow through because her son, a NASA scientist, tells me she's fatalistic. Another is in full term adult care, wasting away of a disease that struck her down. Like the Gaelic Boddicia of old, Sally is six foot tall. She was a cop - twenty years worth of manhandling the bad side of life. I have her marked on the doorpost on the archway in my living room to the dining room of my old house along with my child; his friends, my friends, and whoever made enough impact or asked to be tallied up to stature here.
So. Sally Jo was part of the conversation at the whenever number next get-together of The Committee. This is a group of us women that have been meeting since we all gathered for the first meeting of a Codependents Anonymous group I put together back in the 80s. We all bonded. Only one of us dropped the ball for a spiritual quest at Ba'hai. The rest of us have more or less kept covenant with each other since.
Sally has an incurable disease called Supranuclear Progressive Palsy. It will end up choking her as her throat muscles give up the ability to clamp down and loosen. Sal is sixty something. Awful shitting young to have to say adieu. I have told her sister Katy that I did not want her to strangle. Katy agreed. I will be second in the duel if needed. You understand what I'm saying.
Shirley, on the other hand, is as hard as rocks and as fragile as a lotus in her seventies. She's spiritual leader and divine hag and crone for at least three hundred seeking individuals she guides from her quaint book and herb store where there are resident spirits. She has worked hard all her life. She is integrity exemplified. She has taught me how to use my mean bones so that I wouldn't get stepped on. In her seventy-somethings, she still has the best gams around left over from a modeling career where she sported Russian Wolfhounds down a runway. She's had the umpty-umphth operation on a recalcitrant colon in ex many years. All leave scar tissue, a little less colon, and this time, fistulas.
Fistula. Sounds like a Roman Emperor, a Caesar that rampages through the good land of a body that was once brave and strong and beautiful. She is the one that I can't seem to bring myself to follow up on. I've talked to her son. He gives me news that isn't welcome. There is something in his reports that tell me she has given up. Fatalistic. Or almost. Either way. Almost is too close.
So. What do I have to say to you tonight? Wisdom? I don't have any. I am wallowing in my own insecurities and skitters at being left with three less good women. I will be losing these very special people from my life. I don't know how to do anything other than honor them by kicking my own ass in gear and getting on with the Cosmic Cotillion that we sign onto when we check onto Planet Earth.
I believe in an afterlife. I must. Neither the purported rapture nor glory calms my soul as much as believing that I will have the chance to touch the ones I love, have loved again. Or that I will have the chance to come back and make it a little better the next time. I hope to see Miriam, Sally Jo and Shirley on the next taxi back to planet Earth. They are good company.