Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 33

tossed out the charcoal one with the stain and gave me a same piles  – keepers, thrift store, a few for me, a few for lavender one I’d always liked. another friend. As we emptied her rod in their big closet, we tossed the keepers in with the giveaways. There was the black cocktail dress bought for the Academy Awards party she attended when a film Dean worked on was nominated for an Oscar; the coat a friend   Dean and I put those giveaway things into black plastic bags and carried them outside to the trunk of my car. I talked her into buying that she never wore; and the cotton drove straight to the hospice thrift store with my sad cargo shirt I had passed on to her that she now passed back and maneuvered through the narrow drive to the loading to me. When I brought out a green wool cardigan with dock at the back. I rang the bell and a volunteer raised three buttons at the waist, she said, “That goes. I won’t see the wide door, welcoming my drop-off. I wanted to say another winter.” something, to let her know that this wasn’t just another   purge of out-of-fashion clothes. I wanted to say, “These We looked at each other, and I did not say, “Oh, you don’t are the clothes of my dear friend who died!” I wanted her know that. You might.” It was our understanding that I did to look in my eyes and see my sorrow. not try to talk her out of her dark thoughts, or dash her slivers of hope, either. I was her witness to what she really I didn’t say that. Behind the loading dock door was a felt. storeroom full of piles of clothes, boxes of books, shelves of   dinner plates and coffee cups. A hospice thrift store would I kept the green sweater, even though it didn’t really fit be full of stories of loss, a repository of objects carrying me at the time. It was just so Linda. I could see her on grief from their donors. the couch snuggling with her son when he came out in his   pajamas to say goodnight. I could see her across from me at the table dividing the Chinese chicken salads I brought I kept the green sweater, a necklace of glass beads, three scarves, and a long, flowered skirt. The skirt reminds me to her house for our lunch. I could see her on the chilly of Linda lying under the covers with a knit cap on her nights when we sat outside talking about our lives. head and telling me about wearing that skirt on a warm summer evening, the breeze touching her bare legs. We The dresses, T-shirts, and sweaters reflect the life of a were both transported that afternoon into the memory of woman who was a knockout whether she got dolled up her life before she got cancer. or pulled on her faded garden shirt. She won’t wear the   cocktail dress or the thin black pants again. She is skin and bones, and layers T-shirts, pile pullovers, and sweatpants I carry both those images together – the woman near death and the woman so alive. I haven’t let go of either. to keep warm. I wished I could see her in a summer dress lounging on her deck by the tubs of flowering orchids, her hair flowing and her life still ahead of her, but we were past that and I just wanted her to be warm and as          Kathryn McArthur is a writer and retired volunteer coordinator for Hospice by the Bay in Larkspur, CA. The comfortable as possible. years she spent with a close friend diagnosed with Stage Linda was right. She did not see another winter. She IV breast cancer led her to become a volunteer visiting died one month later, 19 days before her 45  birthday. hospice patients. After her friend died, her volunteer work A couple of months later Dean asked me to help him finish hired as their volunteer coordinator, a position from the job of sorting and distributing her clothes. We worked which she is now retired. She has a Bachelor of Arts in somberly, and, unlike the afternoon with Linda, there philosophy/religion, which may or may not have been a were neither tears nor laughter. Just sadness. We made the prescient step to her work in the field of death and dying. th segued into paid work in the office, and she was eventually 33