I am a scientist because I like to know, because I like to understand. Things which I do not understand frustrate me. I always cope better with situations I can plan for than situations which knock me completely off guard. This may explain why I find myself somewhat paralyzed, unable to work today.
I’ve lost two people dear to me in the past two months. The first was my husband’s grandmother who was, in many ways, dearer to me than my own grandmother. Had she lived another month, UnlikelyGrandmother would have been 98. For much of the time that I’d known her, she’d been one of the sharpest, perkiest, most energetic women I knew. But then, a little past age 95, dementia set in. So the last time I saw her alive, about 6 months ago, her face was blank and fuzzy, and she didn’t recognize any of her family members.
When I received word of Grandmother’s passing, I was sad. I grieved. And then I got over it and got right back to work. In fact, even while I was grieving, I could work, because her death was not unexpected–she’d recently been put on hospice–and because the Grandmother I knew and loved had disappeared years ago.
My latest loss, however, has all but paralyzed me even though I was not as close to the one who passed on. Once upon a time, in high school, I met a friend of a friend. We started hanging out together. This girl was funny, kind, and compassionate. She was the sort of person people take advantage of left and right. Though we never became best friends, I enjoyed her company.
After high school we lost touch for many years. We eventually reconnected first by email, then via Facebook. And I discovered that she was the same person I enjoyed hanging out with many years ago–funny, kind, fannish, determined, compassionate, gullible.
And then…then she went in for a routine surgery a couple of days ago. She seemed to recover well enough at first, well enough that her husband and mother decided to take a little break from their vigil. But her condition suddenly worsened, and before her family could return to the hospital she had passed on.
Everyone who knew her is just stunned. How can she be gone? So full of life, so vital, so loving.
She was just a few months older than I am. I joke about being old, at 38. But 38, while a rather advanced age for a graduate student, is far too young to die.
I do not like any sort of surprises. And I especially do not like surprises of this sort.