Turns out this has been a lousy summer. Not for me necessarily- thyroid cancer and RAI aside- but for people I know. Some I know better than others. At any rate, I know or know of several people who are currently mourning loved ones.
Two of those people were older. My best friend's father-in-law died after many years of illness. His family knew it was the end and they were all able to gather in Kansas and spend his last days with him at his bedside. They shared memories, photos, and laughter. And when he passed away two weeks ago, they shared their tears and their strength. It was, stereotypically anyway, the perfect death. The way any of us would probably want to go. Surrounded by loved ones, telling you how wonderful you are and how glad they've been to know you.
My great-aunt Carol died last Wednesday. She was 87 and had also been sick off and on for several years. I'm not sure that she was surrounded by family. What I do know is that she was independent to the end. She lived in the house where she had raised her family, she had many people in her life, and she even tooled around on the internet. I should have sent her emails far more often than I did.
Not everyone was older though. I know of three others who died far too young, and at least two of them will not get to see their children grow up, which I find just heartbreaking. And completely unfair.
I told you earlier last month about my neighbor who passed away. Just a few weeks later, at the end of August, Paul died of a heart attack at 52. He wasn't a friend of ours necessarily, but we were friendly. He owned my son's favorite restaurant. We went semi-regularly and always for the boy's birthday until it closed last summer. We showed up at the restaurant a week after it had closed. When we read the sign, the boy stood on Murray Ave. and cried. Occasionally he'll still bring up how sad he is that they're gone. I heard from a mutual friend that Paul was catering and enjoying life again- restaurant ownership had been so stressful. I'm just sorry that he didn't get more time to take advantage of his new-found happiness.
The same week that Paul died, I learned that someone I went to high school with had also passed away. The husband is in disbelief, but I honestly think that Melissa may be the first in our class to have died. There were only 45 of us in our graduating class at a small Catholic girls' school in Baltimore. Apparently, she was 42, married with kids, and she died in June. That's all I've learned. I've tried to find more information online, but nothing comes up- no obituary, no news reports. According to the one person who signed her guestbook at the funeral home's website, Melissa's facebook page was quickly taken down. I find the whole thing strange, as if they tried very hard to wipe out her memory- at least online. Chilling really.
A long, hot, sad summer for sure. I'm certainly ready for it to be over, and I'm looking forward to fall. Here's hoping the cooler temperatures bring happier times with them.