Judy and Shadow

A friend passed away yesterday. She’d been sick for quite a while, but the end came quickly. Even though we’d watched her lose her hair, grow it back, lose it again, fight countless infections and battle what seemed like 1,000 hurdles, I woke up yesterday morning fully convinced she’d rally. We’d celebrated her return to great health before. Ever the optimist, I was so painfully wrong.

Many of us had time to get to the hospital to say goodbye. She’d been in and out of the hospital for several years. By the end of the afternoon, I watched half a dozen nurses and doctors come to the ICU to see one of their favorite patients for the last time.
Something about watching a surgeon and nurses cry made the day that much more difficult; I always think of medical professionals as having some sort of super-human capability to deal with this sort of sorrow, but come to find out they are as startled and shaken by death as the rest of us.

A ray of light in all of this was watching my friends and her family gather. Judy worked with international students — many stopped by. She was loved by her church, and the minister was there to hold her husband’s hand. Her mother, sister, cousin and children were around her bedside too. The hallway was full of people she’d touched, including a handful of kids who’d spent many a summer at her house eating crazy dishes (eggs del monico) and listening to her stories of playing on Fire Island as a kid and going to graduate school at Columbia. She introduced me to the theater and regularly made sure their family had an extra ticket to the Broadway shows coming through town. She was an avid reader and loved swapping books, talking about music and taking long walks with her dog. I never heard her raise her voice or say a mean spirited thing about another person. She was truly a graceful woman and I will really miss her. We all will.

Today, I’m honoring Judy by being mindful of the countless blessings that surround my daily routines. From the gorgeous sunrise this morning that I may have otherwise overlooked to the simple breakfast I’ve just enjoyed — life is just too short to let the little things go unnoticed.

Thanks for your kind words yesterday. If you have a second today, please send good thoughts and prayers to Judy’s family.