Back in March, our friend Patricia died. She's deaf and black and had a lot of health problems. Communication with healthcare providers was always a challenge - not only was there the language barrier, there was the poor person barrier. It made me angry sometimes. But I don't think she died because of that. Actually, I don't think we'll ever know just why she died - she died just as COVID was getting bad, and they didn't have a lot of time to evaluate. No visitors were allowed at the hospital, and her brother wasn't able to talk to someone about retrieving her body for weeks. Marriner spent a lot of time on the phone, trying to help or at least make sure that the family remembered her spiritual concerns in parting. But as far as we know, two months later, she has still not been laid to rest. Maybe she has been, and they forgot to tell her pastor about it. Which would be so sad for all of us who loved her and served her since she joined the church two years ago.
We gave Patricia a ride to church, since she lived pretty much on the way for us. She was so considerate of us - always punctual and always let me know if she was sick and couldn't come (which was often.) Before we picked up Patricia, we parked in a parking lot a few blocks from the church and walked, due to the scarcity of parking in the church parking garage. Patricia used a walker. When we started giving her a ride, we went to drop her off at the church, then drive back to our usual parking spot. But there, right in front of the church, was an open parking spot. The kids thought we'd won the lottery. They jumped out, experienced 5 seconds of sweltering heat, and were in the church. But the funny thing was that this happened every week we gave Patricia a ride. One week when she was sick, we went for the front of the church and couldn't find a spot anywhere. We ended up back at our old parking spot. God clearly loves Patricia - he reserved a special parking spot for her himself!
She was called as a Primary teacher. She cheerfully did whatever she could. When she was sick for 6 months once, the rest of us all assumed she was done being a Primary teacher, but the first week she came back, she was there in Primary, helping the kids cut out crafts. I asked her once if she thought she'd like to hear when she got to heaven, or if she liked being Deaf. She didn't have to think about that one - she'd rather be hearing. I hope she's enjoying it!
Last week, our friend Tracie died. We knew her from when Marriner served in the Anacostia ward. She grew up with all the disadvantages that poverty and a messed up family life bring and joined the church as an adult. She was the most loving, cheerful and optimistic person I know. She's like a ray of sunshine that draws you to her. She had MS, and her body was deteriorating. But she was fighting it. She tried to raise money to buy a MS therapy machine. Rich people get these all the time, and they help a lot with symptoms. But she wasn't rich, and medical bills became more urgent, anyway. There was one time we gave her a ride to a Stake choir practice. I put her scriptures and purse on top of my car while I loaded her walker...and you can guess what I did - I drove off with everything she owned being left on the street. It wasn't until we arrived 45 minutes later that we realized what happened. She was not angry or frustrated at me. We drove back and searched the area, but everything was gone. She was not angry or frustrated, just so kind to me. We bought her some new scriptures, since that was the only thing we could really replace. Then, a week later, the police called that they had found her wallet and scripture, all in good shape, only minus the cash. That was an actual miracle. We gave the scriptures we ordered to Ellis for her 8th birthday, instead :)
We haven't talked much to Tracie in the last few years, but she met a wonderful kind man who joined the church, married her, and took her to the temple. They were beautiful together. But, she was diagnosed with cancer, and the two of them had far too short of a time together. Why does it seem like the sweetest people always get the worst bodies? I know she's enjoying being free from MS. but I imagine she must be missing her sweet husband as much as he's missing her. Fortunately, they have eternity to look forward to together.
Today, as I was still feeling a lot of sadness for Tracie's passing, we got an email that just put me over the emotional edge. One of Lige's best friends at school died. Her name is Davee, and she played the clarinet. I know Lige really looked up to her, and she was a wonderful friend. And this one made me mad. It's one thing for me to work through some grief by myself, but really, does my teenager son have to do this in isolation, too? I grieve for Davee and her family, and any fear or pain she went through (she died from an accident, but we don't know the details.) And I grieve for my son, who is such an odd duck at his school, and doesn't fit in with a lot of people, but does have a few really good friends - and now one of them is gone. And it just doesn't seem fair, and it makes me want to go punch walls or rip up papers or something. (Don't worry, I'm not going to!)
So, today I did a lot of crying. (Did. Hah. I'm bawling me head off right now.) That's ok - I thoroughly believe that crying makes things better. I hope that writing these memories will be a good substitute for a memorial service for me. I just wish their whole family could know how much good their lost loved one did in the world. They were all such wonderful people. Love you, Patricia, Tracie and Davee. Until we meet again.