"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." ~ Robert Frost (American Poet, one of my personal favourites)
Slowly, I crawled back into the world of living. It took the sudden death of my good friend and then the entrance of a new friend into my life, who I undoubtedly credit for bringing me back to life.
Sue - the only person who's name I'll use on this blog because she's dead and can't complain about it - was one of those people that you totally loved or totally disliked and there was very little in between. Most people, including myself, loved her for her unique nature as she was different in every way possible. Sue was a good 'ol girl from a small community in Prince Edwards Island (god's country, they would say) and she had salt in her blood from the ocean that surrounded her. She was wild, totally out of control, and her antics put other people's shenanigans to shame. We met through work, as she worked with the kids directly 'on-the-floor' and, as soon as I was introduced to her - I wanted to get to know her better. She was totally unfeminine and people at work, those who knew and loved her, often joked about Sue being the boy in the Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue." Her voice was husky, likely from too much smoking and drinking. She was loyal and funny and would do anything for you that she could. If I had ever killed a person and needed an accomplice to help me out, I would have definitely called Sue. She was "that" friend. The closeness that existed within the friendship we developed, in relative terms, was surprising as we did not actually hang out for all that long. I think that's why it was so special. Sue had beautiful blue eyes that reminded me of water swirling around in a pool and I doubt she never knew that she possessed such beauty. Her spirit was old and wounded, while simultaneously wise and youthful. She was simply Sue, no more, no less.
At 41, instead of coming to pick me up at the airport when I flew in from Halifax, NS on a Monday night, Sue died. No warning, no sickness (that was obvious), she just died. As tests later showed, Sue had Acute Leukemia that literally sent her white blood cells out of control on that particular day, attacking her organs - including her brain. When I got to her she was being kept alive by machines, waiting for her parents to arrive from PEI. I got to spend 17 hours with my friend, just me and her, before her parents arrived and the machines were shut off. It was precious, those 17 hours, so precious. I talked to her about so many things and, for once, she shut up and listened. Sue had this terrible habit of laughing inappropriately when you attempted to talk to her about anything serious or emotional; her silence that day was deafening.
I heavily grieved Sue. She was this gigantic presence in my life and, like blowing out a candle, she was gone. Totally and utterly gone. I read at her memorial: Ecclesiastes, To Every Thing There is a Season....
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
I haven't been one for prayer in quite some time, but this - to me - is beautiful. After the ceremonial portion of her service, the minister invited people to get up and share stories about Sue. Her mother, a lovely woman who is absolutely hysterical, got up and told a story about her and Sue once being in a restaurant that got held up. Great story. I didn't get up and share any of my stories but, in reflection, I might have shared this particular memory....
Very often, Sue and I sat outside on her very small porch that was extremely narrow, which meant we could sit in our chairs with our feet propped up on the top of the railing without much difficulty. Most times, we would sit out there as the sun was setting, smoking our cigarettes, her drinking beer and me drinking wine. And, we would chat out there as her two crazy cats would climb in and out of the small window that sat directly (behind) in between the two of us. Many times, we discussed my dreams to go to Africa, dreams that were - at that time - under developed and not quite goals yet. I remember one conversation when she asked me why I wanted to go and I replied to her that I really, really wanted to hear African children singing. She joked and commented that it would be cheaper to purchase a CD. She found it odd that I would travel to Africa to hear children singing, even though she knew there were many more reasons than that. I told her that the African tribal music I'd been listening to made me feel calm and at peace. For some reason, it made me feel like I understood myself better. When I sat down and listened to this music, I could vividly picture myself there and that made me happy. She sat there, smoking her cigarettes, and listened to me babble on and on about it. She ended the conversation with a simple statement: you'll go...someday, you'll go.
I remember thinking to myself, I just might.
Here's to you my friend.....
If you care to hear a beautiful song of such singing, it can be foud on the Blood Diamond Soundtrack. This one is my favourite: