Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
I lost two loved ones over the holiday season. It was stunning - and it was painful. All this suddenly happened as I lie in bed since the end of December with some type of virus going around. At one point I had gone online to order flowers for my friend’s funeral - when I suddenly spotted an email from one of my cousins asking me to contact another of our cousins ‘urgently’. Unfortunately, the email was dated four days earlier but I hadn’t been checking my messages because I was trying to recoup for almost two weeks in bed.
I lost my beloved pal of 44 years and, as it tragically came to pass, one of my cousins had died suddenly of a massive heart attack in the same week. I didn‘t know it at the time, but that occurred four days earlier. In the space of two days, both women were gone. We are all the same age, give or take a few months. My cousin had been talking about retiring. Her death was quite sudden and unexpected. My pal had been suffering for two years and we knew the end was drawing closer. To top off the incredibleness of this, they were buried on the same day, in two different states.
When I got the ‘text’ about my pal passing away in Florida from her daughter-in-law, in an instant, my life was changed. I walked down memory lane in my mind - I was 21 and she was 22 when we first met. I had just bought my first house with my former husband -- my daughter was 1 ½. My pal was soon to be engaged to my husband’s cousin, who lived around the corner from our new home. The four of us were seeing one another a lot and enjoying each other’s company. Because my daughter was a toddler, we would get together at my house and have many enjoyable times together.
Several years later, my friend decided to end her relationship with my husband’s cousin - she had fallen out of love. It was over. He was devastated. My pal came to me and said she hoped we could continue our friendship in spite of her not marrying into the family after all. Of course, I was elated that she felt the same way I did. It became one of the most enduring, sometimes tumultuous and heart/gut wrenching friendship, but it lasted through forty-four years. When she moved out of New York, where we had lived, there were a few years when we lost touch, but eventually a letter arrived in the mail one day and she was wanting to renew our friendship after many ups and downs in our respective lives.
In the early years of our friendship, she was the one I could always count on for moral support. We even wound up divorcing our spouses at the same time - and when I divorced and had financial difficulties, she came to my rescue time and time again. I never asked to borrow money - her hand was immediately out to me each time. She was always a port in the storm of life. I got closer to her than any friend or family member (other than my daughter). She was selfless. She was a friend to anyone who needed a friend. She LOVED animals and her house looked like a menagerie. She was the closest thing to an angel on earth. Now she’s gone - forever. She’s gone with all my memories and secrets. Nothing is the same now that she’s no longer in the world.
I will miss her little giggle and her very wise counsel. I also grieve for my cousin who will never get to enjoy retirement after working hard her entire life. I know she is with all of our departed family members, which includes both of our Mothers, who were twin sisters.
Life is so short.