It's been a sad week. A good friend of mine, Val the Bingo Queen, lost a friend to cancer last Saturday. It was one of those "thank goodness she can finally rest in peace" deaths, i.e. the run-up to it was spectacularly awful and packed with suffering. However, at least everyone knew it was coming. The woman who passed away had a chance to say goodbye to her nearest and dearest. She also left instructions such that after her passing, her Facebook location changed to "Chillin' with Jesus" and her occupation changed to "Haunting you all". Nice touch!
So that was all very sobering, but Val was coping.
Then, on Tuesday, I got a phone call from Val. She was in tears. And if you knew Val, you'd know how rare that is. She's the steeliest woman I've ever met. What happened? Well, remember the wedding I went to just a few months ago? The bride, one of Val's closest friends, at only 55 years of age, had very suddenly died of a heart attack.
As if that weren't hard enough to take, the groom asked Val if she could call all of their other friends to give them the news. Of course she did. She's used to being the strong one. But it wasn't easy.
I work with Val, and another woman who is part of that group of friends. I was called upon this week to do my share of listening and consoling. It's my honour and privilege to be there to help. But I must say, it's been a bit grim.
This Sunday I'll be joining Val and her group of friends for Easter lunch at a buffet. She asked them if they minded if Ken and I were invited, and they all seemed keen to have us there. It might be a relief to have some people around who aren't so personally affected by this double whammy of losses. I plan on wearing my most reassuring smile to start off with, and I'm ready to take their lead in terms of the mood of the gathering. I expect they'll want to tell good-memories stories and joke about the two women getting up to trouble together in Heaven.