When a friend dies…

A friend died today. We hadn’t been close over the past few years, ever since my mother passed away, actually. Stuff happened; words were exchanged. It was a difficult time for both of us. I was going through the grief of losing my parents and was thrown unexpectedly into menopause; Rita had a lot of health & family issues. Eventually we drifted apart.

In the past couple of years, we had talked again. Not about important stuff, she wanted help to buy a new computer, then she needed help to fix her computer. We kept the conversation light, and said we should get together for bingo sometime (she was my bingo buddy years ago and we would go to games a couple of times a week). We never actually did go to bingo though. I had been thinking of her recently, of calling her and getting together for bingo. Neither one of us had been to bingo in years.

I had no idea she wasn’t well. She had had a bypass operation years ago, but I thought she was doing well. The last time I saw her, she had lost weight and had quit smoking. I was amazed at how well she looked. She had two grandchildren, and she was so proud of them! She had also gotten in touch with some relatives in Nova Scotia and went down there every year to visit.

I waited too long to call. When I got home from work, there was a message on my phone from Jim, her husband. She’d gone into the hospital for angioplasty, but the surgeon said the blockage was too severe and booked her for another bypass, which she had yesterday. This morning at 9:30 a.m. she went into cardiac arrest and passed away.

Rita and I were very close in age; my birthday is on January 13, while hers was on December 24, so we were less than a month apart.

So, how did this affect me? I am grieving for my friend. Time and distance and differences separated us, but I will always remember her and I will always regret that I didn’t call her to get together for bingo sooner. I will also take better care of myself – I’m overweight, have dangerously high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Losing the weight is the first step.

51 is too young to leave. I hope you’re in a better place Rita. You will really be missed.

Goodbye my friend, rest in peace.

Rita Lepine
December 24, 1956 – June 6, 2008

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This work by Suzette Leeming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.