i had a friend when i was in my 20's who really taught me about being a solid grown-up. she was 13 years older than me. for several years i had a tight knit group of friends in toronto and we often saw her and her husband. when i first met them, she had just had a heart-breaking and horrible miscarriage. it was my introduction to her positive and clear perspective. she welcomed me into her family, so that when i was in toronto, i always would stop in and see them, eat with them, play with her children. their home was that sort of home. there was always good food. fresh coffee. a ready laugh.
it was through her example that i learned to not get involved with the drama that circles around one, quick to entangle and difficult to tame. i watched her and learned how to make people feel welcome and comfortable in one's home. i learned how to smile through pain. i learned how to let difficult times pass and welcome the good times. and so i spent a good portion of my 20s with her as a role model.
sadly, i can't remember the last time i was with her. but i'm sure it was more than 15 years ago. i got married and settled into a life that no longer included frequent trips to toronto. and we fell out of touch. but i would think of her often. her smile. her quiet kind demeanor. her grace.
i learned a couple of weeks ago that she was in palliative care and that immediate family were her only visitors. a few years ago i learned from friends that she had been diagnosed with liver cancer in an advanced stage. but she had beaten the odds, beaten the cancer. or that was what i thought. but tragically, the cancer had continued to ravage her and today was her funeral. it seems unreal. so very sad, but unreal. for i haven't seen her in so many years. but her spirit remains so strong and kind and alive. i hope that i can pass on the gifts she gave me. gifts that make lives better, stronger, happier and fuller. those are good gifts. i love you, olgica.