Grief is a strange companion. You go about your days, carrying on with life’s mundane tasks, yet the undercurrent of loss is ever-present.
In late December, Katherine who blogged at Pillows A-La-Mode lost her battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Everyone liked Katherine. She blogged about sewing, refashion and paper crafts but it was her warmth and spirit that kept you coming back. I started following her in my early blogging days and always looked forward to the conversation. In 2012, her daughter-in-law, Shannon, secretly contacted many of us and asked us to take part in a “card shower”. Fellow bloggers sent cards from around the world, unbeknownst to Katherine, and we all held our collective breath till she learned of the surprise. She posted a photo of all of the cards displayed on her mantel with these words:
I can’t thank Shannon enough for this incredibly thoughtful gesture, and I can’t thank YOU enough for being my wonderful friends and encouragers. As this card that Shannon made for me says, “One kind word can warm three winter months.” New Year blessings to all of you, with love from Pillows A-La-Mode. ♥
You can read the full post here. Katherine let us know she was ill and that she would be taking a break from the blogging world while she sought treatment for her cancer. My heart skipped a beat when her post appeared in my feed. It was a shock realizing that her husband David authored the post to let us know of her passing. What a brave man.
I didn’t know Katherine in person, but those of you who blog know that it doesn’t matter one wit. She was here and then she wasn’t, and I feel saddened by her loss.
That same week I learned that Nicole Meredith’s rapid decline led her to take her own life. For twenty years Nicole struggled with a complex set of health issues related to her environment. At one point she was so ill that she had to sleep outdoors in a tent, unable to tolerate electricity. Frail and exhausted, she finally found treatment at a clinic in Texas. After months of therapy, she was finally feeling better. She was able to paint once again, though she never ventured far from poetry. Nicole’s work appears in a number of poetry journals, with many gathered together in a chapbook entitled Thanksgiving for a Hungry Ghost.
Within three months of moving to a new home, the illness returned with a vengeance. Jason drove from Washington to Texas seeking treatment from the same clinic, but Nicole continued to decline. She quietly took her own life, leaving family and friends and all that knew her devastated. She was only 40.
We shared our last correspondence in July. She wrote:
I’m so emotional reading your email that J just forwarded me. Thank you! The lovely supportive words, I have to say, hold as much currency as your amazing gift. Too much. But your heart is felt on many levels and so gratefully received, Alys!
Now what will set life straight once and for all (hoho!) is if you perchance have ANY interest in me blending you up a custom oil based perfume? No pressure, but it would be a most welcome undertaking to get to focus on a project for a fellow “flower person!” Especially now…
I can certainly take no for an answer, but if there’s a scent-shaped desire: boom, I’m here to fill at least that!
Either way, thank you again–so much–for your sincerity and kindness. Nicole
That’s who she was. When her health improved, she continued to shine light on others with her art, her poetry, the essential oils and her gift with words. She made you feel like *you* were the special one.
Following is an excerpt from one of Nicole Meredith’s poems:
Playing the Tin Whistle
You ask me again when I will recover.
Instead I describe
how I taught myself to trill
so the note hooks upward
then drunkenly swoons,
then rights itself and holds steady.
All I can promise is that it is truly a lovely, haunting effect.
Goodby My Friends, by David Scraper at Pillows A-La-Mode
GardeningNirvana: Sweet Peas: Art, Friendship and Second Chances