My dear friend, LB, passed away Sunday afternoon. She had been on hospice for the past two weeks, and her death was not unexpected, but as anyone who has lost a friend or loved one can tell you, knowing something is going to happen, and actually having it happen are two very different circumstances.
The thing that stands out most in my memories of her was her upbeat nature. This was a woman who had been looking down the barrel of breast cancer and its aftermaths for a good 10 years. She was stage IV, and the odds of long term survival were not good, yet whenever I saw her, she was always cheerful and upbeat, an interesting cross between Admiral Farragut (Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!) and Pollyanna Whittier (. . .finding something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how bleak it may be.)
I mostly knew her as a fellow knitter. It was she who got me into knitting chemo hats for our local cancer center. I met her in our local knitting group and very much enjoyed her company. She was coming out of another round of chemotherapy, and chemo brain (which is a thing) made keeping up with a knitting pattern tricky, but hats are simple. So are knitted knockers. She didn’t always feel up to attending and I missed her when she didn’t. Gradually we formed a closer friendship, going to each other’s houses to spend an afternoon knitting and visiting. (Handwork such as knitting, crochet, sewing and embroidery uses a different part of the brain, leaving the social part free to do what it does best. )
Involved as I was with my knee surgery in May, I wasn’t aware that her health had taken a turn for the worse. She and her husband visited me in the hospital and we talked on the phone, but I didn’t realize she was in trouble until just lately. I had that unfortunate experience of visiting a friend, hearing the medical story, and knowing in my heart of hearts that the handwriting was on the wall, but not feeling able to say anything about it. I think she knew I knew. Her husband and daughter made the always agonizing decision to put her in hospice and to bring her home. She passed peacefully with her loved ones at her side.