The service had been lovely. Deanna’s eulogy was a sweet tribute to her mom, filled with stories, humour and warm memories. Even though Millie had few family members, the turnout was sizeable. Millie had touched so many throughout her life, making friends wherever she went. Charlie and Hazel felt fortunate to count themselves amongst those that had the privilege of getting to know her.That being said, the Uber ride home was a quiet one. Charlie made a remark about all the yellow flowers, which was Millie’s favourite colour. Hazel had just nodded. She didn’t have much to say. She had too much on her mind.
The next week was uneventful. Hazel spent a lot of time in the suite reading and watching television. Charlie kept on with his usual activities with friends. The kids phoned to pass on their condolences and offered updates on the grandkids and great grandchildren. Hazel kept the conversations short, responding only in short answers, single syllables and sighs. “Ok,” seemed to be the only word she could squeak out most days.
“Hazel dear, why don’t we go out for a walk today? The sun is shining and it might be the last nice day we have before the cold winds get sent our way,” Charlie offered one afternoon. Hazel put down her book and shook her head. “It’s too cold,” she answered. “Well, that’s what you have all those nice sweaters in the closet for,” Charlie chuckled. Hazel continued to shake her head. “I don’t feel like walking.” “Come now,” Charlie pleaded. “You’ve been living like a hermit for the past week and a bit. I know you’re still upset, but the fresh air will do you some good. Remember when we got out and went to the Fringe? That was a good day.” Hazel got red in the face, and then out of nowhere, all kinds of emotion erupted out of her. “That was before I lost my friend. That was before I realized that this is it Charlie. This is it. We’re here now and this is it. And I like it here, but what now? Our friends are going to start leaving us Charlie. Everyone’s going to leave.” Hazel was shaking now as she cried. “I’m going to eventually lose you too, or you’re going to lose me.”
And there it was. Hazel’s words hung in the air, and there was an unpleasant silence. It was something neither of them liked talking about, but now that they had lost Millie, there was a new realness to the words. Before, when they were dealing with each other’s health, they had made plans for such things. It led them to seek a new home with the supports they needed. Yet, while they knew why they had looked into such things, the reality that time was no longer on their side had never hit either of them so hard.
Charlie was the first to break the silence. “This might be it, Hazel. This very well could be our last home together. That’s the funny thing about life, you don’t get any younger.” Charlie chuckled a bit and took a seat next to his wife. “So what do we do? We just sit here and mope about the time we have left? That doesn’t seem like a very good plan.” Hazel sighed. “No, I suppose that isn’t a very good plan at all.” Charlie put his arm around her shoulders. “I think we make the best of it dear. I say we go for walks while the weather is nice. And we enjoy our friends while we have them. And we take part in activities while our bodies still let us. And long after one of us goes, we continue to do those things. Because that’s what living is hon. Living is moving forward…even when moving forward is really, really hard.” He took a tissue from the box and handed it to her. She dabbed her eyes and smiled.
“It does get hard sometimes,” Hazel whispered quietly. Charlie just nodded. “I know dear. I know.”
Grief can affect people differently, and the loss of a friend can make one’s own mortality all the more real.
What are your thoughts on this week’s issue?