Reader alert: I relaxed my self-imposed 400-word limit to keep the juicy bits.
At 7:15 on Tuesday morning last week, tears filled my eyes as I imagined the funeral for my dear friend, Karen. She had appeared healthy when I saw her on Sunday, but she had gone incommunicado.
We have much in common – Ontario-born grandmas, neighbours, walkers, gardeners, and volunteers. Both of us were excited about our first girls’ getaway. We had delayed our trip by a day to attend a meeting on Monday evening that was especially important to Karen.
I left her a phone message in the middle of Monday afternoon, offering a ride. No response. I left another at 6:30, asking her to let me know if she planned to come with me. Still no response.
When I arrived at 7:00, my heart sank that she wasn’t there. The leader, her good friend, Jackson, was surprised she was missing, too, as he knew she intended to come. “If something is the matter with Karen, please call me,” he said as I left.
When I got home, I emailed Karen, whirred up the pesto I had promised to take, checked in vain for an email response, and went to bed.
I woke early and continued preparations. At 7:10, still in my pyjamas, I picked up the phone. Karen’s voicemail kicked in. “I’m not here right now…”
“Karen, I’m worried ‘cuz I haven’t heard from you. Are you still able to go?” I implored.
My thoughts raced about what to do next. I needed to talk with someone.
“Jackson, Karen still isn’t answering her phone. We’re supposed to leave in less than an hour. I wonder if something is seriously wrong. Am I over-reacting?”
“No, that’s not like Karen to miss a meeting or ignore messages. I think you should call 911.”
That idea felt a little drastic. “Maybe I should go to her place and try her buzzer. If that doesn’t raise her, a neighbour might know who has her extra key.”
“That sounds like a good next step,” Jackson said. “I’ll call her in case that helps. Please keep me in the loop.”
As I hastily buttoned my blouse, I pictured the devastated people I would meet at Karen’s funeral – her family, members of her church, colleagues with whom she volunteers, and vulnerable folks she has befriended in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. The scene was pitiful.
“Ring!” It was Karen. “Jackson said I should call you. Is something wrong?”
“It’s great to hear your voice, Karen. I wondered if you were okay when you didn’t respond to my messages.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Wilda. I looked after my grandkids yesterday and didn’t check my phone. And I can’t believe I forgot that meeting until it was too late to come.”
“No worries, Karen. We have a ferry to catch. I’ll see you at eight.”
The two of us had several belly laughs as we debriefed en route to the ferry.
When my vivid imagination starts to conjure the next disaster scenario, I need to remember this incident.
Next week, Karen will share her insights from this experience, as my guest blogger.