My lovely friend Marilynne died yesterday evening.
It wasn't unexpected. We knew, when she was taken into a hospice last Tuesday, that she
did not have very long left. So when her husband Arthur, also a dear friend, phoned this morning I didn't feel shock, just overwhelming sadness. But I can only be glad for her that she died peacefully, painlessly and, as always,
firm in her faith. She has had a long, hard struggle against cancer for many years - and nobody is more deserving of a rest in peace.
Marilynne was a school-teacher of the good, old-fashioned variety -
all hand-knitted cardigans and thick spectacles. I used to wonder how she would fare in today's classrooms, but of course that warmth, gentleness, tenderness and love of children - all of which Marilynne had in abundance - would always win
the day. Didn't I see it for myself, ten years ago, when she organised the games for all the children at our Golden Jubilee party, held in our back garden.
We've been doing the last of our holiday
packing. I've cooked two apple pies for tomorrow night's first evening meal and somehow managed to wash my white dressing gown in the doubtful company of a bright red serviette so that it is now a not-very-fetching shade of pink. In other words, life goes on, with all its minor triumphs and disasters. Sometimes when you are at your happiest, it seems that sadness hits hardest.
So I read about elephants.
Did you know that when a member of the herd passes, even elephants mourn? They gather around, extend their trunks and gently touch the tusks of their fallen friend. It's their ritual. It's sad and it's beautiful. It's how they heal.
Rest, peacefully, my dear and gentle friend.