my best friend in all the world died a year ago yesterday, after battling colon cancer most of the year. she was diagnosed in february, went through chemotherapy in the spring, and had a remission in the summer. when the cancer returned around her birthday, she decided not to endure a second course of chemo.
although we were supposed to see each other for her birthday, she wasn't feeling well enough. ultimately i had to say goodbye to her in a letter. sent the letter in october. i spoke to lorraine for the last time on november 1, 2006. it wasn't lost on me that it was the Feast of All Saints. i knew as i hung up it was the last time i'd speak to her. just come and say goodbye, i remember i thought as i hung up. just come and say goodbye.
but "i'll call you," she said.
when teh bedroom phone rang on my coffee table Christmas night, it should have been my first clue, but in the mixed up way of dreams, it made sense. i answered the phone and it was Lorraine. we were chatting away when i realized there was soemthing wrong about the whole thing. Lorraine was sounding much too good. "Lorraine," i said, blunt as always, "are you dead?"
i will never forget her words. "you know, annie, the hardest part of dying is staying connected to the people you love."
something distracted me and i had to put the phone down. when i picked it up again, the line was dead. i woke up immediately and saw that it was 4:44 AM.
around ten o'clock that morning, the phone rang for real. i picked it up and it was lorraine's daughter to tell me her mother had died around 5:15 AM.
it was only after her death that i was finally brave enough to admit that i know it is possible to stay connected to the people who you love, even after they are dead. i had had paranormal experiences all my life, had been doing readings for people for some time, but was always afraid to admit, to all of it. some people think im crazy or evil, some people are afraid. my family mostly shakes their heads and dismiss me as just one more eccentric writer. through my friend's final journey, i learned that dying is a process of unconnecting, of relinquishing, of surrendering, but that there is indeed a vital piece of everyone that remains, that burns, that shines, and that it is absolutely possible to stay connected to the people who have crossed.
about six months after her death, right around the summer solstice, i had another dream about lorraine. in this one, we were sitting on a white marble bench outside a grecian looking building. a pack of dogs was frolicking on the hill side. lorraine looked great. she was wearing a grecian sort of toga and gold sandals. she was always a large woman and she was still very large, but she looked happy and healthy and rosy. her dog celtie, who'd died about a year before she did, came bounding over to say hello. i don't remember what we talked about, but i remember what she said right before i woke up.
"i'm here," she said. "you know i'm always right Here."
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.