(Disclaimer: I originally wrote this post yesterday, but I screwed up and accidentally deleted it. I will try and re-write it the best I can recall.)
On Monday morning, April 16th, I woke up and did my usual routine, anticipating just another mundane Monday in my middle aged life. (funny how Mondays used to be “manic” with work and school and such) I logged into Facebook and was shocked to see this:
Dear Friends. My beautiful sister Peggy died yesterday. These last few years and such new technology allowed Peggy to get back in touch with all of you and you all meant so much to her. She has had pure joy sharing the memories of all of you. The time in her life where things were real, where everything was good, she loved sharing those memories with all of you. It’s taking some time to get things in order, and I’ll keep you posted as we go thru whatever it is to ensure that she knows we are by her side. Please don’t feel sorry for us. We were blessed. We have to let go. You were all such a big part of her happiness these last few years. I can never thank you for all being so kind, so real, and so compassionate.
For someone I knew for a very short period of time 35-plus years ago, I was floored. Margret Tunis Vadman, or Peggy, was bright, caring and a wonderful person. She was always quick to laugh and easy to like. She once responded to a picture of me I posted on Facebook from High School, “That’s the Kent I knew. With the long wavy hair and the smile.”
I called her sister, Elizabeth and spoke to her for about an hour. She told me of her life and her struggles and how finally, at long last she had come to peace with her past and was in a good place. She was crying and laughing at the same time. A natural reaction, I suppose, but still very touching. Her second husband, John, whom she married a few years ago, gave her the security and love that most never find in this crazy life.
“We were all so young.”
A friend of mine told me that a while back. He has, in the past four years, lost the love of his life and his son, but found sobriety and a new life. When I heard of Peggy’s passing, I was reminded of what Sal told me in a car many years ago. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that everybody lives and everybody dies.
A few famous people died this week. Dick Clark, Levon Helm. Robin Gibb is in a coma. So is another long ago acquaintance, who’s son bludgeoned her husband to death and severely beat her and another family member in a robbery attempt.
“We were all so young.”
People I know, know these people. A friend’s son goes to school with the boy who lies in a coma and his twin brother. Another friend worked with the man who got killed. And the woman, I knew briefly in college. The world isn’t so big after all.
A butterfly flaps his wings and the earth moves. It’s not easy losing people, even those you barely knew or knew just in passing. My wavy hair is gone, my manic Monday’s a thing of the past. Experiences turn into memories. Pain and abuse are burdens we carry with us, until they are no more, either through experience or death. Usually the latter.
Robert F. Kennedy, following his brother’s assassination, often referred to this quote from the Greek poet Aeschylus, which is a fitting way to end this blog: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
In memory of my long-ago friend Peggy…1960-2012.