At the end of February, I wrote a post about a friend of my mother's, a woman I've known my whole life, Generous Hyper Woman. She had just been diagnosed with cancer, and her daughter Shiny Personality, who was in my grade in school, had thrown a big party so that everyone could spend time with her mother while she was still alive. That party took place on a stormy winter day, with howling winds and swirling snow, but Shiny Personality's lovely house was filled with warmth and laughter.
I can remember Opera Singer, the man who has been married to Generous Hyper Woman for 47 years, stopping me and gesturing toward the living room, where small children were running around, aunts were carrying trays of cookies, groups of relatives and friends were joking and laughing. "Can you just feel how much love is in this room?" he asked. Men of his generation are not given to expansive expressions of emotion, but he choked up several times that day as he watched his wife moving slowly through the knot of friends and family who were there to support her.
Generous Hyper Woman died yesterday.
The four months since her diagnosis have been peaceful. She and her husband have stayed at her daughter’s home, high in the hills, in a room filled with sunshine and a view of spring arriving. Close friends, like my parents, came to visit on days when she was able to talk, to sit up on the couch and recount the old stories. Her daughter, Shiny Personality, with unfailing patience, filled her last days with love and attention and warmth. Last week, when death grew near, the grandchildren came over for one last visit. My parents went over for one last conversation. Relatives flew back from all over the country for one last visit. The room filled with flowers. Her three adult children and her husband were with her as she slid into death.