One of the only virtues of Facebook is that occasionally it does help you keep in touch with folks who otherwise might not be on your mind every day.
My childhood was spent in an insular neighborhood on a suburban/rural peninsula south of Boston. One of those places where parents kicked the kids outside until the streetlights come on. My parents house DID have locks, but the keys were lost for like 20 years at one point. That's the kind of place it was and really, still mostly is.
So it was with a heavy heart I read on Facebook that Mrs. Brooks passed away.
My best friend growing up was one of nine kids. No shit, he had 8 brothers and sisters. We had other neighbors with 6 or 7 kids, (Irish Catholic neighborhood, obviously), and some families in my church had 13 and even 15 kids, but the Brooks' were just a couple doors down. Our parents were tight, close friends, which meant I spent a lot of time in their house.
As my father got progressively more ill, he and Mr. Brooks mostly just saw each other at church and talked quite a bit. Before my dad passed on, my brother and I walked down the street and poked our heads in the Brooks' house, let them know my dad's time was up, and they came up the street to say goodbye just a half hour or so before my dad passed, and were exceptionally kind, as always, to my mom in the days after that.
So Mrs. Brooks passed away yesterday, and it was expected. Brain cancer, and with the miracle of modern medicine, she enjoyed life to the end, including spending a weekend getawayup in New Hampshire with the whole family just a week or so before she passed.
I can't help but think, though, of how unfair it is. A couple, married just about 50 years, raises 9 good kids, have, God, I dunno, a couple dozen grandkids? But I mean, a tight, tightknit couple, they did it right, a rich life full of love, but at the moment of parting, is it possible to be truly grateful to God for the gifts of a good life, when your foundation has been cut out from under you?
I didn't feel too grateful to God when my dad passed on, despite him living 20+ years longer than any doctor ever predicted. It took a while for that perspective to come back to me. I remember the sweet, beautiful, and therefore terrible words my mother said when she said goodbye, the words of a person gifted with an unbreakable faith, which she and my dad shared. And I can only hope that Mr. Books feels as my mom did, and is able to remember the gift of the time together that they did have.
I hope, in what I also hope is the far, far future, I am able to face my own end as Mrs Brooks and my dad did. To draw the family in closer, to be encircled by them, to exclude the extraneous, and to be a source of love and happiness, as well as to be pleased to receive the same.
Anyways, I don't really know where I'm going with this. I'm saddened for my friends, but also very aware of how proud they must all be to have had the mother they did.