Sunday, December 4, 2011

I should have made that call

It has been a year since Lorraine died. She was a woman I worked with in the early 80s at Metro Transit. We both worked in the operations office. I had left teaching (I was too young, the public school system too inflexible), and clerical work was something I was good at, and I had tenure at BC Hydro from all the summer and winter jobs I had to put myself through university. But, this story isn't about me, it is about Lorraine. Or, maybe it is about how sometimes we let our own insecurities get in the way of true and abiding love.

Lorraine had the greatest laugh. She was probably, hands down, the kindest person I will ever have met in this life. She had married Nelson, a man 20+ years her senior and they loved to travel in their little camperized van. Nelson had lost both his arms in an electrical accident before Lorraine met him. She met him at GF Strong where he was recovering from his accident. Lorraine was there visiting a friend recovering from another accident. Accidents brought them together. They formed a friendship, and finally Lorraine proposed to him. He didn't have the nerve to propose to her. He thought she couldn't possibly love an old man who didn't have any arms. He was wrong. Lorraine could love.

They never had children, but they always had a dog. Lorraine would walk that dog for two hours every day. One hour in the morning, one hour at night. During their camping adventures they fell in love with Rock Creek. They started to buy land there and when Nelson retired, Lorraine retired too, and they went to Rock Creek, built their dream home, and settled into that little community. She skied, walked her dog, and worked for the local newspaper as a journalist.

Even after I stopped working at Transit she and I would keep touch by having dinner every month or so. On one of those dinners she shared that she was going for a biopsy. Breast Cancer. She had a mastectomy, chemo, recovered and continued with her life. We continued our dinners, sometimes with our husbands, usually just the two of us. Writing this I just remember her huge smile. She was always smiling.

We wrote letters, exchanged Christmas cards, kept in touch as best you can when you live far away.

And then it was August of 2007. My husband and I had bought a truck and camper and had spent the summer in the interior of BC. One afternoon we stumbled upon Rock Creek. We were having lunch and he suggested we should call Lorraine and Nelson.
I didn't want to. Why? Because I weigh more than I did in the early 80s. Because I was 25 years olders than I was in the 80s. Because I was worried about what she would think about me. What was I thinking? I know Lorraine would have hugged me, and greeted me, and made me tea. But, I didn't make the call.

That Christmas I received a letter that her cancer had returned, that she was finishing chemo and, although tired, heading to New York Times Square with her niece to see the Ball drop at New Year's. I called her,but only got her answering machine. She called back and I wasn't home. She said she found it hard to talk on the phone, she would get too emotional. We exchanged a few long emails. Catching up. She always wanted to know how my kids were doing.

Then last fall I started to get emails from her friends. Lorraine was dying from her third fight with breast cancer. This time she would not win. The emails came daily and I sent some emails that her friends could read to her.

She died on December 1 last year. So I have been thinking about her alot the past few days. I wish I had made that call. I wish I had hugged her one more time. I wish I hadn't been so vain and stupid. I wish I could hear her laugh and see her smile one more time.

God willing, I won't make that mistake again.

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