Last week our family attended the funeral of my cousin's wife, Carol. Carol died of breast cancer at the age of 66. To say she will be missed is an understatement. At every significant event for our family she has been there with her movie star smile and great laugh.
Over the last two years when I would write a piece, I would email it to Carol for her input. She was a retired music teacher and got the creative gene so I figured she was a good critic. She never criticized. You would have thought every essay I sent her was the best she'd ever read. She encouraged me constantly to "get my stuff out there."
During the Christmas holidays, my husband and I went with my mom to visit her and Hal, and though cancer had taken its toll, she was still Carol and when I left I thought, "So this is how you die. You stay true to you." I can't think of a time when a lesson was so poignant or so clear to me.
I was going thru some old emails when I found this one from her in response to something I'd written: "I can't help but think of Hal and I who one day won't be here. And I can't help but think of the life we've led with no regrets and many blessings to be thankful for. It's been a great life......."
That was a year ago when I told her I was going to spend more time writing. When I was at her funeral I regretted that I spent the last year not working very hard at that and that when we met again I'd like to be able to be able to tell her that I gave it my best shot.
There was a story told at the funeral about Carol that most of us had never heard. Late one night she got a call from a former student who was an actor in an off-Broadway play. He was at the after party and wanted to thank her for encouraging him when he was in middle school because his dream was coming to fruition.
How lucky were we that Carol saw in us what we didn't always see in ourselves?