Last night, a truly bright light went out, far too early. She was our neighbor, a dear friend, and had become an "honorary grandmother" to J. And J. just adored her. Her apartment is directly below ours, and every time we pass, J. wants to knock on the door and say hello. Then he'd go running to her for a big hug. She loved it. He loved it. I loved it.
I feel lucky that J. wanted to knock on her door on Sunday afternoon, because we spent a nice hour or so at her house. We chatted, while J. explored her elephant collection. She was full of plans and ideas and enthusiasm. She had catered a party (50 people; everything prepared in her little kitchen without help; AND she decorated...) the day before and was tickled by all the compliments she got on her food, especially from the men. (Men don't usually care about macaroni salad, she told me).
I was with her last night when she passed, although I didn't know that at the time. Her heart had stopped before the ambulance even arrived, we found out later. And try as they might, they couldn't get it beating again.
A family member shared last night that she wanted to be buried in her purple dress, vibrant as the life she led. She loved to put together fabulous outfits, ornamented with jewelry that she found at "the promised land," her name for the best thrift store in town. I know her granddaughters will pick out the jewelry to match the dress and the perfect pair of shoes. She would want to go out in style and color and celebration, beautiful and joyful. And I will try to get into that spirit. I really will. But not today. Today, I am going to miss her with all my heart.