Some of us decided to drive to the calling hours together. Makes Bread said she'd be home by 6 o'clock with a babysitter, so we met at her house. We sat for a few moments on her deck, with Beautiful Hair filling us in on details we hadn't heard, and talked quietly until Makes Bread pulled into the driveway.
"You better take the front seat," Quilt Artist told me, "so you don't get motion sickness." We talked, of course, as we drove through the countryside, past cornfields that shimmered green and gold, and farmhouses with tall sunflowers in their front yards.
We are a group of women who have been friends for years: we get together for potlucks or walks or movies or full moon ceremonies – and sometimes whole weekends away. Gorgeous Eyes, just forty years old, is the youngest member of the group. And she is the first to be widowed.
Her partner, Beautiful&Funny, has been fighting cancer for seven years. During July, the two women travelled to the ocean on what they knew would be their last trip together, a trip filled with moments both painful and special. When they returned home, hospice nurses provided pain medication and Beautiful&Funny began the last stage of dying. Gorgeous Eyes knew that their nineteen years together was coming to an end.
She died last week.
We gathered at a big house in the country to talk, to hug, to look at photographs. Gorgeous Eyes pointed out some especially silly pictures, and Southern Accent told some funny stories. Family and friends clustered in groups on the deck, talking, listening, feeling the coolness as evening descended. "This is the easy part," Gorgeous Eyes said. "I am surrounded by people who love me." She's right of course. The hardest part will be the months to come.