This week our friend and neighbour, Dot, passed away after a very brief but vicious bout of pancreatic cancer.
It has been a shock, Dot was so active and healthy and otherwise full of life that nobody expected this when she went into hospital with stomach pain a month ago.
It quickly became clear that Dot was not going to be coming home and so I began to drip feed the idea to our children that they were going to lose someone they care about. Gently. Subtly. We talked about things honestly but in a way that wasn’t too daunting or overwhelming and while they said they would be upset, they were ok with the idea.
Sadly, on Monday I received the call I had been dreading, Dot had passed away two hours before. We had spent the day before making pictures for her from the children, which I was going to take to her on Tuesday morning (when I am usually without children). Unfortunately she didn’t get her pictures but I decided to wait until the weekend to tell the children, so as not to rock their week to much.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp as an adult, that somebody is gone, never to be seen again, but they took the news much like most children. They were sad, there was a lot of quivering bottom lips and follow up questions but overall they were ok. They’ve commented a few times since and asked about things that are bothering them but they always seem satisfied with my answers.
I have spent as much time as I can with Norman, without intruding. He tells me it has been a great comfort and I am so glad to have been able to help but there’s a fine line between comfort and imposition. It’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do but I feel greatly responsible for my neighbour, as we all should. If we can’t take care of our neighbours, who are we?
That being said, it’s hard to watch somebody grieve. It’s a difficult and complicated process and there’s little you can say or do to make it any better. I’ve decide that the best thing I can do is provide company. It’s really all I’m qualified for.
The funeral is in under two weeks and as we won’t be taking the children with us (it’s not place for a 3 and 5 year old), we have come up with our own ‘goodbye’. Firstly, we have sewn some seeds that Dot brought the children with the hopes that we will see new life as a result of our nurturing. Teddy suggested inviting Norman for dinner after we have harvested our Dot crops, which I think is a fantastic idea. I’m so proud of how thoughtful he can be.
We are also hoping to plant a ‘Dorothy’ rose that will provide a bit of beauty and longevity in our garden, a lasting signifier of our gratitude to have had Dot in our lives.
I read through Dot’s funeral wishes on Friday with Norman and it comes as no surprise that she wants no fuss. However she has asked that there be no black and instead people should wear reds, yellows or oranges of which I have none. So I need to get something together that is cheerful and appropriate without spending many pennies. I have zero to my name, as is standard this last 9 months.
I’m not looking forward to the funeral but I am hoping it helps Norman and Helen (their daughter) to close a chapter on their grief and move onto the next. I am sure there are many before life begins to even out a bit but this one seems the most important.
We will miss Dot greatly, she was a good friend to us but I am so glad she is without pain and as we have told the children, she is in the stars, and we will look for her twinkle. I’m sure it’ll be bright.