I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Farewell , dear Hedi

Me, SG, Rob, Lily (and Hedi's picture)

Yesterday, the four of us gathered at a favorite brewery and restaurant to give our own farewell to Hedi, and commiserate with one another about how much we'd give to know the circumstances of her death. Hedi's husband Dan is unwilling to tell anybody, and there will be no official public information, no obituary, nothing. He's not saying, and I guess everybody is entitled to their own grief process, but it's sure hard for those of us who would like to know more. She had just endured a long operation two days before, and it was her first day home from the hospital. 

All we know for sure is that she died not long after going to bed for the night. In an email, he said, "I helped her into bed and when I checked on her a few minutes later she was gone." Rob, a longtime friend who knows Dan's brother, said that he learned from him that there will indeed be no official notification, such as an obit, and that's what Hedi said she wanted. But that's so hard for us who are left behind, and I have a hard time not saying goodbye. So, we gathered to have our own little wake, and I brought my iPad and displayed a picture of Hedi with me and Lily at Hedi's birthday party in 2018. It helped me get some closure, and today I do feel that I can now let her rest in peace. I miss her and wish so much that I had gone over to see her last Thursday night, before she left us all for good. 

Hedi was a year younger than me, and she never let me forget it. We joked that we both had to make it at least until 2029, she even set a date (which I think was in May), but that is no longer something to look forward to. I still have a year and a half before I reach my 80th birthday, and I do hope I will be around to enjoy that milestone. But, as she has reminded me, nobody is guaranteed even one more day of life. She was very religious, and I hope that she is now at peace and sitting up there in heaven, smiling down at those of us still making our way through life, one day at a time. 

* * *

Let's see: what else happened this week? Well, we had a gathering of all the Senior Trailblazers to begin to plan our summer hikes. It was incredibly well attended, and as usual we walked on the horse trails behind Lake Padden before sitting down to a potluck lunch. The only thing different this year was that we didn't all share food, but brought our own and some people brought a few items to share with everyone. I unfortunately ate three truffles that one guy brought from Trader Joe's. He said they had to disappear as he was unwilling to take them home. They were delicious chocolatey delights.

Since we were instructed that only fully vaccinated people were to attend the gathering, nobody wore masks, and we decided that we would begin to carpool once again. We also learned that the Senior Center that sponsors our hikes will open to the public at the end of June. We are allowed to park and leave our cars there now, so that's where we'll begin our excursions into the High Country, starting this coming Thursday, if enough snow is gone in order for us to get to the trailheads.

I'm hoping I still have what it takes to climb more than 3,000 feet to the meadow at Church Mountain. At least I am sure I won't be the slowest hiker, or the fastest. Almost everyone has found some way to keep in shape as we made our way through the pandemic shutdown, although it's been difficult to find endurance hikes that simulate a day climbing in the mountains. Hopefully I'll be able to continue gaining strength as we resume our usual summer schedule. I feel very fortunate to have adequate well-used knees that take the brunt of the downhill stress, and knee braces to help as well. Between the braces and my trekking poles, I feel ready to give it a go. I sure miss the views and the forests I've visited every summer for more than a decade, except for last year.

In any event, I have so much to be thankful for, that I need to take a moment to acknowledge all that exists in my life today that makes me happy. First and foremost, it is my dear life partner, who sleeps quietly next to me as I write this morning. That's his usual configuration when I create this post on Sunday mornings. I think he hears the tapping of the keys, but it's so much a part of his morning sounds that hopefully it is soothing to him. I can tell by the quality of his breathing that he's content right now, at least.

Secondly, I am grateful for my ability to get out and about as much as I desire, with an old but reliable car and a coffee shop that, while still closed to indoor gathering, has an outdoor seating area that allows me to drink my morning latte with my friend John (and sometimes my friend Gene) before beginning the rest of my day. I am able to get in my usual step count by walking to and from the bus, taking a side trip through a local park most days, and enjoy observing the passing of the seasons as I walk.

I am also grateful that the macular degeneration, from which I suffer, has not caused me to lose my ability to read and watch favorite shows. Although my eyesight is not what it once was, it is something I cherish and do what I can to keep it healthy for as long as possible. I am missing big areas of vision, in both eyes, but one eye compensates for the other, and my focal vision is still intact. All I have to do to notice how much I need both eyes is to cover one and observe what I can no longer see. While it's scary, it is also encouraging in some ways. I am grateful.

And you know that I also cherish my online community, of which you are part. I follow many blogs, and although sometimes I get behind and have to skip leaving a comment, in most cases I know that you look forward to my comments as much as I look forward to yours. We are truly a community of like-minded friends, which means so much to me, and it enriches my life in myriad ways.

Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything. —Alan Cohen

And with that quote, dear friends, I will leave you for another week, and hopefully when we get together again, you will have spent some time in gratitude for all the blessings you have. I know I will definitely try to find more blessings in my own life. Until we meet next, be well.


gigi-hawaii said...

I am so sorry that Hedi died so suddenly, but after that long surgery, perhaps, it wasn't totally unexpected. I am sorry for her husband's loss. I hope the macular degeneration does not progress any further. It is a scary thing to have.

Linda Reeder said...

I hope to get outside to do a little more work in the yard this morning before the rain comes. I'm kinda stiff and sore from hours spent outside yesterday, but being productive in the yard boosts my spirits.
I think we have finally mostly recovered from whatever we had last week. Tom spent a lot of time sleeping for several days. My gut slowly settled down.
We are grateful for recovery and the beauty of the outside world that surrounds us.
Be well and content, dear friend.

Boud said...

It's so hard when family shuts out friends like that. One of our early music stars died, we knew the illness, gad done what we could in her last weeks. But her husband haf a totally private funeral, no announcements of any kind.

We all wanted to play a concert in her honor, and he admitted he gad no idea of her influence in early music, abd relented. So several months later, players from all over came, at all levels, including her little grandchildren abd we played a wonderful concert, open free to the public. He said he was glad we'd pushed. But I think it took him those months to deal with her death.
Maybe Hedi's husband will be able to say more eventually, maybe even have a memorial for her. It can take a while for the shock to lose its edge.

Elephant's Child said...

I hope that Hedi's husband finds a way to process his loss which works for him - and I am very glad that you had friend's to share yours with.
I am also very glad that you will be out hiking with the Senior Trailblazers again.
You are so right about gratitude. It is a gift which keeps giving. And giving. Hugs from afar.

ApacheDug said...

I liked the get-together the four of you had for Hedi, with her photo at the table. What a thoughtful thing to do, and the more I think about it, almost necessary so that you & your other friends could move on. I was just thinking back to relatives & friends of my own that had passed on, and how I would’ve felt without some closure. I hope Hedi’s husband is doing okay. I’m also glad to hear of the adventures you and your fellow Trailblazers had this past week, DJan—I know you’ve been anxious for things to return to normal, though truth be told I don’t think you’ve been too held back in your hiking excursions! Also very sorry to read about the macular degeneration, I hope you can keep the bulk of that at bay. I grew up with a couple older relatives who suffered with that, and the older I get, the more I’m reminded of that awful condition. And lastly, I hope your partner is doing well, and your own week ahead has a truffle or two. ;^)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Thank you for giving us as much as you know about Hedi. It was so kind of the four of you getting together with her picture on your iPad. It's always good to get your report from your walks/hikes with the Trailblazers. In the blogosphere, one of my favorite things to look for is someone who walks, snaps photos along the way, and shares what they find. I do hope the macular degeneration does not progress any more. And you were so right when you said, "I know that you look forward to my comments as much as I look forward to yours." :-) Thank you for all your comments on my blog. I always look forward to them. Wishing you and SG a fine week ahead. John

William Kendall said...

A big loss, and everyone deals with grief differently.

Gigi said...

The not knowing is the hardest part. We lost a co-worker a few months ago and we've heard nothing since. I'm glad you four were able to host your own service for Heidi.

Marie Smith said...

I understand your need to say goodbye to a friend. Your group gathering was a great idea. Times are changing and the wakes of old are becoming a thing of the past.

If we have but one prayer, make it one of thanksgiving. It is enough.

Betsy said...

It is so hard when you are unable to process through the death of a loved one with a service of some sort and to not know and understand what happened. I'm so glad that you four friends had your own wake/tribute to Hedi. My husbands mother has said she doesn't want a funeral of any sort. I think we have finally convinced her that the service isn't for her, its for those left behind, to work through their grief and loss.
I'm glad your hiking group is able to meet again. It does seem as though life is starting to flow again through the country. In fact, I'm taking my first flight this week. It's a bit scary to think of but I know it will be fine.
Blessings and hugs,

Red said...

I'm sorry to hear that you lost your friend Hedy. Yes we do need information so that we can let things rest. I hope that your hiking season goes well. I'm looking forward to birding with the group but not yet. We still have many restrictions.

Glenda Beall said...

As someone said, the funeral or memorial service is really for the living, not the one who passed away. So glad you four gathered in her memory. I am concerned about macular degeneration, Jan. I hope it gets no worse. My sight has gotten worse this past year and it is difficult to adjust to watching TV, reading or using my computer. My doc says it is not bad enough to change my prescription, but I think something needs to be done.

Like you, I am so grateful for my life and the wonderful people in it. Getting older and having more health problems slows one down, but you just keep on going, hiking and climbing like a young woman. I so admire you, my friend.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am glad you got to have your own memorial for Hedi where your could share remembering the good times. That was important to you and I am sure to Hedi who was watching. I feel for her husband who is choosing to go it alone.
So happy you can get together with your hiking buds again and that you are all vaccinated. Keep those feet moving.

Far Side of Fifty said...

It is so sad that Hedi's husband doesn't share something with those who loved her. I understand that he may be suffering and she may have had some wishes...but still her friends should have some answers. I hope you feel a bit better after your get together.

I hope you have a summer filled with many great hikes!

Anvilcloud said...

It is a unique individual who can sleep contentedly with keys tapping beside him.

You found a good way to honour your friend's life and passing.

Rita said...

Glad you were able to have a gathering for her anyways. It is hard when you are left wndering like that. I have had pe pals in ill health that disappeared and the husbands didn't respond, either. My dearest friend died suddenly--no explanation or autopsy by husband. Not only that he immediately gave away all her dearly loved older pets and stripped the house of everything of hers within a couple of months. Hurtful. But he was an A$$. With him it wasn't just shock as it may be for Heidi's husband.

Anyways, so glad you are all getting back to your adventures together. I hope the hike goes well for you. Have a wonderful week, my friend. :)

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I'm sorry to hear about Heide. Hope all is well.

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Anonymous said...

You would not believe how many people I know or have read about recently dying unexpectedly after a recent surgery. It is rather alarming. I need knee replacements but am very hesitant o move forward right now.
I am a recent widow (since February) and grief is such a deeply personal journey. her husband may take a little time to be able to speak of it. I had a memorial for my husband at my sons home with only close family in attendance mostly due to covid , but also just wanted the small intimate service. We had soft music and a video of family photos playing on the tv screen and anyone who wanted to could speak . Afterwards we had a buffet meal of BBQ (hubs favorite). It was a touching and sweet rememberence.

Sherry DeLaine