Sunday, June 9, 2019

So Fragile and So Fearless

Hello All,
I’ve been away from blogging and posting for over three months. I spent March marketing my new feline gift book—The Gift of Nine Lives. Then I spent April and early May completing the historical novel on which I’d worked, off and on, for twenty-two years. The Reluctant Spy is now being formatting for publication sometime this summer.

Since then I’ve dwelt often in the deep center of myself where my love for friends resides. There, I’ve grieved. In mid-May one of my dearest and oldest friends died suddenly and unexpectedly. Pat and I met when we were in our early forties, so we’d known one another for more than forty years.

I’m finding this death hard; in the past weeks I’ve spoken with her husband several times, cried with him, and continued to grieve a friend who so often helped me when my thoughts became muddled. With her incisive questions and wisdom, Pat brought clarity to my confusion.


Living far from her home, I hadn’t seen her for six years. But we spoke on the phone regularly. So it’s not her actual tangible presence that tells me she is gone. In my mind—which is having a hard time accepting the new reality—she is still just a phone call away.

As I watched the season’s final episode of “Call the Midwife,” I found myself thinking, “I wonder what Pat will say about this when we talk.”

As I read the latest Jacqueline Winspear novel The American Agent, I found myself wondering if Pat, too, was thinking this might be the author’s last book in the series.

Always, while watching the PBS television programs we most enjoyed or reading the novels by authors that one or the other of us had discovered and shared, I find myself thinking of Pat. Where does she think the series—television or book—is going next? What other program did we see this English actor in?

Over the forty years of our friendship, Pat and I shared many interests. Here are just a few:
·      a great love of animals and a concern over their treatment;
·      a delight in reading well-written mystery novels;
·      a love of correct grammar and good writing;
·      a commitment to social justice, inclusion, equality, voting rights, and women’s rights;
·      a vow to resist bullies and those who fail to embrace the differences that might enrich our culture;
·      a resolve to try to find, embrace, and live the consequences of the ties that bind us as global citizens;
·      and a sense of humor—oh, I miss her laughter and her chuckle.


After living in Stillwater, Minnesota, for thirty-seven years, I moved here to Missouri ten years ago. In the intervening years, nine of my friends have died. Pat is just the latest, but our friendship had grown so deep that my grief has been a little overwhelming.

What always helps me is being grateful that she chose me as a friend all those years ago. I feel deep, enriching gratitude for her friendship. For her faithfulness. For her love.

And I realize again and yes again as I learn of the death of friends in Minnesota that growing older is a matter of letting go again and yes again. Letting go.

I am reminded of the last words from a poem I memorized when I was twenty-one. It is from a book of poetry by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone.
So fragile and so fearless have I grown.

Pat had become fragile as she aged. She was always fearless. And she was always a friend.
Peace.

Photographs from Wikipedia




40 comments:

  1. I know she loved you very much,Dee. Mert

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    1. Thank you, Mert, for assuring me of that right now. Each year for my birthday, Pat told me in her birthday card how much our friendship meant to her. You are the love of her life. The husband who treasured her always. Peace.

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  2. This is a truly lovely tribute to a special woman. Thank you, and I mourn for the diminishing of your world without her sage advice and perhaps even more importantly, her love and laughter.

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    1. Dear Sue, that word "diminishing" really speaks to me now that so many of my friends--nine in Minnesota and three cousins here in Missouri--have died in the last ten years. The lesson for me truly is that I need to turn from the closed door to the open window and see what I can now embrace in a new way, always remembering the legacy that Pat leaves with me. I hope you are well and taking care of yourself. I've be visiting your blog this coming week. Peace.

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    1. Dear Sandi, thank you. We all are grieving I think for someone or something. Because Pat's death was so sudden and so unexpected, it truly caught me unawares, and I know I must do a much better job of keeping in touch with those who have befriended me. I hope all is well with you. Peace.

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  4. Dee, I am so sorry. We come to an age where the last good bye easily can become the final good bye. We get over and get on because we must. Even so, twenty two years later, I find myself thinking "I must call Mom. Tomorrow." Peace to you.

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    1. Dear Joanne, what you share is so true. My mom died at 58 in 1968 and I still think something or learn something or laugh at a joke and think, "I'll tell Mom about this." Her life was so interwoven with mine. And aren't we blessed for having mothers like that! Peace.

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  5. I know that Pat had a good life, Dee, as she had the best friend in you. I am sorry that you have lost someone so dear to you.

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    1. Dear Arleen, thank you. Pat had rheumatoid arthritis from the time she was 26. She had three children under the age of five then. At first it was hard, she told me, to accept. To live with. But gradually she came to live in the present moment and let go of any bitterness or question. She was gracious always about the pain with which she lived. Never talking about it or inserting it into any conversation on someone's health. She taught me so much about living in the present and about living the mantra--all shall be well. She was--she is--a blessing in my live. Thank you, Arleen, for your sympathy and understanding. Peace.

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  6. Dear Dee, You wrote a beautiful tribute to your friend; she certainly was someone special. Such a friend as yours replenished your soul and I know your grief is deep, but memories of her will stay with you always. I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs, VB

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    1. Dear Vagabonde, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. She did "replenish" my soul. What a lovely word you've used. And yes, I know that memories will comfort me and that is a great blessing. I hope to start reading blogs again this week, so I'll soon have the treat of finding out with interesting things you've been doing and seeing the accompanying photographs and postcards! Peace.

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    2. Grief is a strange thing, you think you are okay, and then you are not. My Dad died in February, Reading your beautifully written post has made me realize, he wasn't just my father but a very dear friend. Your dear friend will always be with you, in your heart and spirit, just as my father is. And we will see them again, I firmly believe this. Peace and love, Kay

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    3. Dear Kay, thank you for sharing your firm belief that we will meet again those whom we have dearly loved on Earth. I so believe in the Holy Oneness of All Creation and in that Oneness, Pat and I cherish one another still as you and your Dad do. We are blessed aren't we to have known so much love. Peace.

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  7. I am so sorry you lost such a special person from your life. I know how it is to constantly want to reach out to them. My such friend has been gone for 5 years and I still feel the need to share with her. But like you, I am just ever so grateful she was with me for so long. Smile while remembering the good times

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    1. Dear Patti, thank you for sharing with me your own loss of a dear friend and for encouraging me to smile as I remember the times she and I talked and laughed and "kicked up our heels!" Peace.

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  8. A lovely tribute and I’m so sorry you have lost a friend. May your memories bring you comfort. And you finished your book! Whoot, whoot, and congratulations!!! I will be watching for it.

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    1. Dear Cynthia, memories are so wonderful. they do comfort us. I can't imagine life without them.

      And thanks for being enthusiastic about the historical novel. I spent this morning responding to the copyediting my niece did. A fine job on her part. We both hope to have the book out in August. I'll blog about it then in an announcement! Peace.

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  9. Welcome back Dee....missed you. As we get older and lose our dear friends its always difficult. I am approaching that phase myself. Perhaps the though of being alone makes it even tougher. Still at 95 when asked my dad at the White Bear Lake Senior live if the socialized with his longtime friend he informed me the were all dead . Some weeks later he had a girlfriend with "wheels" she was in her eighties and they went frequently to a local casiono...:)

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    1. Dear Troutbirder, this is just a lovely story. I smiled when I first read your comment and I continue to smile now. the human spirit is a wonder. And having "wheels" in ones eighties is mighty fine! I'm so happy for our Dad and you must be also. His spirit is so strong! Peace.

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  10. Dee: Grief is such a personal thing, a conundrum that is painful but necessary. You have expressed your relationship beautifully. Your words are a comforting reminder of the fragile framework of each person we know. I hope this message has lessened your sadness.

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    1. Dear Judy, your message does lessen my sadness. The word "conundrum" helps me understand my own inability to grasp the reality of this death, which took place, suddenly and unexpectedly, at a distance from me. Thank you. Peace.

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  11. Dear Dee, I'm so sorry you have lost such a close and special friend. Long friendships such as yours are precious and irreplaceable and one of the sorrows of growing older is seeing such friendships severed one by one. In the last 4 years John and I have lost two of our oldest and closest friends from our college years over 50 years ago and will soon have lost another. My heart goes out to you and I pray you will find comfort in your treasure vox of happy memories.

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    1. Dear Kathy, yes, this is one of the realities of aging. You and John have lost two of your closest friends and now you will soon be saying good-bye to another. As my Minnesota friends die--nine now--I realize that the history we shared is being remembered now only by me. The memories become "just ours" and we can share the stories with others, but the person with whom we lived those memories is gone and it seems that in a way, a part of the history of our lives is gone. It is another letting go that is asked of us. The becoming "bared down at last to bone." Gratitude then is what fills us--gratitude for the gift of friendship that someone has entrusted to us.

      I hope all is well with you and John. I'm not a very consistent follower on Facebook. I need to begin to look daily and to leave a few messages! Peace.

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  12. Thank you, Dee, for such a wonderfully poignant post, with so much of your friend's attributes described for those of us who didn't know her to admire. Pondering the brevity of life is often on my mind these days. I am glad to have found you through the internet and have enjoyed many of your books. It's good to "see" you in the blogosphere again. Welcome home! :-)

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    1. Dear DJan, and it will be so good when I begin reading blogs again and catching up with all that is happening in the lives of those whose stories, like yours, keep me in touch with the beauty and the poignancy of being human. I've missed your weekly Sunday blogs in which your share your thoughts, which are often so deep and so thought-provoking, as well as your weekly blog on your hiking. I'm planning on starting my blog reading this week. I hope to do so at least! Peace.

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  13. So sorry to hear of your friend Pat passing.

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    1. Dear Susan, thank you. I am just filled with gratitude that I got to know her and be part of her life. Peace.

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  14. Oh Dee, so sorry on the loss of your friend! "So fragile and so fearless" what a wonderful phrase.

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    1. Dear Karen, that wonderful phrase is the last line in the book of poetry called "The Unicorn" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It came out while I was in college and I just absorbed it! Peace.

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss of your friend. It sounds like you are doing well and that you have been busy. I hope this means your health is getting better. And I feel like I have been waiting forever to get a chance to read The Reluctant Spy. I will be first in line. Take care, thinking of you.

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    1. Dear Inger, I am doing well and keeping busy. My health has been really good until the recent urinary tract infection that laid me low because the medicine was so potent!

      You've been waiting a long time to read the novel and I'm telling you I've been struggling with it for nearly 22 years off and on and off and on. I'm so glad that it will finally be published and readers will meet the characters who introduced themselves to me so many years ago. I hope you are well. I'll be visiting your blog in a few days! Peace.

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  16. Dear Dee i am still and speechless after reading this very sensitive and very touching piece of writing !

    words cannot heal your pain my dear friend but i have to say that i am deeply sorry for your loss of true friend!

    she was amazing lady as i can feel her through your words ,her kindness and bonding is something we rarely find in this world of today

    hope you will continue to remember her for golden times you both spent together and keep pray for her rest in peace !

    she will be withing the shower of blessings even in other world i am sure !
    i am happy for you that your fighter spirit is wining the one more battle and you are about to publish your new novel HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS FOR THAT ACHIEVEMENT my friend!

    keep sharing your wonderful profound thoughts with us !
    hugs!

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  17. Dear Baili, thank you for your kind words and your congratulations on my finishing the novel. I read your most recent post yesterday--the one on balance and thought how well it suited where I am right now--trying to balance the "letting go" that is part of aging with the embracing of that which is new to my life as I age. Thank you for your wise words in that posting. Peace.

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  18. Friendship as long as yours and Pat's are hard to say good-bye too. I hope you find peace and solace in remembering her as time passes and the pain of her parting lessens.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Since I posted Pat's eulogy, another friend has died. She was 97 and I'd known her--through phone calls and the internet--for 25 years. She led a long life and her good will and simplicity and innocence spoke to me so strongly throughout our numerous phone calls. My life has been blessed with good friends. Peace.

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  19. Dee, words seem useless at times like this... but they are all we have. I too lost a very dear friend not too long ago... and countless things throughout the days continue to remind me of her. I keep a saying posted in my room - mainly for my grandchildren- but it works well in this situation too. It’s “ Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened “.

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    1. Dear Rian, I so understand your loss and I am so grateful for the quote you sent. Yes, I will smile because Pat and I had a friendship! We did have all those years to enjoy one another. And that love can never die. thank you, Rian, I've copied the quote and put it on my refrigerator. Peace.

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  20. I am sorry you have lost such a dear friend. Sometimes I feel that we are now just sitting in this waiting room, the final chamber before we too must leave. At other times I am fully aware of the limited time available and try to make what I can of it.
    I think I prefer myself in the second mode.

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  21. The photo of cats is so cute and adorable, have a lovely day:)

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