We've had out share of loss over the past 12 months: cancer, death, afflictions - all unexpected and sad. And as we prepare to say goodbye and good riddance to 2006, the old man with the scythe took one more parting swipe - and we lost our friend Pat.
54 years young with energy enough to be a popular teacher to her Grade One pupils, Pat was the kind of person you'd like the moment you met her. I met her some 20 years ago on my first trip to Dee's family cottage. Her family has the cottage next door and has been friends with Dee's family since god-knows-when. Our first meeting was memorable mostly because (1) she was the first person I saw as we pulled into the cottage dock and (2) she was wearing the smallest bikini I'd ever seen (and I would soon learn this was her standard attire for 2 months every Summer).
Over the years I got to know Pat and her husband Henry as two of the kindest souls I'd ever meet. This is not hyperbole; they truly believed in kindness towards All as their way to live in the world. Even more special for us, my kids - especially JediBoy - formed a special relationship with Pat. They spent Summers playing with Pat's dog, baking her donuts, learning to ride one of Pat's waterbikes, or just chillin' on Pat's dock. All of this was just woven into the fabric of their cottage Summers - expected and perhaps taken for granted.
When we lost Pat just before Christmas, it was not expected. The sudden onset of a rare blood disease took her from us in just 5 short weeks. We all took it hard, but no one harder than my kids, I think. This was their first real meeting with death: grief, a casket, new kinds of manners, 200-odd mourners and most of them Strangers. They did us proud and I know it was hard for them. It was hard for all of us.
So goodbye, Pat. We miss you. It still hurts, and this Summer it will hurt again when we pull into the dock and you're not there. I think we'll cry again.