I visited a friend at Hospice of the Panhandle—the second friend admitted there in just four weeks. I wrote about my first visit in my post “Bilbo Baggins’s Blessing.” That friend died the next day.
And as with that friend, I left this friend with this farewell: Wherever you fare, may you fare well. She died an hour later.
Just three days before, I had seen her at home. She sat on the edge of her bed. We talked for nearly two hours. She was frail, fragile, and failing but still a bit feisty.
She told me of growing up in Hollywood, naively marrying a sketchy West Virginian, reluctantly adopting a sweet Doberman pinscher, moving to West Virginia (with both!), working while attending college, tending to a vexatious husband, moving out and on, getting a master’s degree, working one job after another, finding true romance, writing poems, writing columns, loving flowers, loving friends, loving life, and then suddenly—cancer.
There was no cure. Only care.
Medical care was inconstant. But the care from her best friend (and husband of 35 years) was not. He was by her side every step of the way.
We sat together by her bed at hospice. She slept and could not be roused. But I knew she could hear.
Just before I left her house three days before, out of the blue she told me that the story of creation in Genesis was her favorite passage in the Bible. Mine too. She was the first one I ever heard say so.
I can recite Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. I cannot recite Genesis 1 verbatim. So I opened my Bible and read it to her slowly.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void. Darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light and there was light.
Not overnight, but ever so gradually, life arose and flourished on planet earth. My friend loved this wild and wonderful planet, especially its bugs.
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
The story is a myth.
But any way you look at it, the earth is a precious gift.
My friend was known as—and shall always be known as—“The Bug Lady.”