Laura has returned home for the last time. I never met this lovely woman, but in the short few months I've read her blog, I'd come to really like her. As her cancer encroached, I read about the things she missed - spicy foods, glasses of milk - and the things that brought her joy - her wedding, her husband, her friends, and family. I once ate Hostess "Wonka" cupcakes (purple filling) with a glass of milk on her behalf, which she enjoyed vicariously. (I was on a screaming sugar high for the rest of the day, but it was a once in a blue moon type of thing - and it was worth it.)
And now, with her cancer a fatal confirmation, Laura has gone home to leave this world on her own terms. In hours or days, she will be gone. I'm crying for a stranger tonight more than I've cried over many things in recent times.
This week has been hard on everyone. No one expected New Orleans to turn into Hell on Earth. No one expected so much death and destruction and despair. I've felt sick over it all, but I hadn't cried about it. But things have been mounting.
Hundreds of people are trampled in a terrifying panic on an Iraqi bridge. But that horror is eclipsed by Mother Nature.
New Orleans is a burning, toxic husk. Towns have vanished from the map. Hundreds have surely died. Thousands likely have died. And many more yet may die, unrescued or ill.
And in Los Angeles, a lovely young newlywed woman I've never met is about to die.
And now, I cry.
Each life has equal value, and the loss of each life is devastating to the survivors, whether it's war or a hurricane or insidious cancer that steals the life away.
And I feel flooded now. My personal, mental levee has been breached. And I'm crying for people I do not know.
Believe or don't in an afterlife. It's your choice. I'm not sure what I believe, personally.
If you don't believe, just remember all who are leaving our messed up planet this late summer. But if you believe in something beyond this world, pray for those who have passed away this week. And for those who will be seeking their wings in the coming days.
Tomorrow would have been my mother's 84th birthday. If there are Pearly Gates somewhere, I'm sure she's up there, probably with a clipboard, ready to assist new arrivals. (Once a Den Mother, always a Den Mother.)
Update: Laura, the lovely young woman in Los Angeles, died at 10:35 p.m. Sunday night. She passed away peacefully in her sleep.