Suzy Snapper
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Double Booked
Two funerals on Saturday. A decision to make. I want to be at both...each person was a big part of my life during different eras...but I simply cannot be in two places at once.

Let me tell you about the first person. She was a friend of mine in high school, although I haven't kept in touch with her. Brenda passed away on April 9 after a length illness in Alberta. I didn't know she lived in Alberta, let alone that she was ill. Being part of the reunion committee, I had her on my list of people to contact. I wanted to talk to her again and was very much looking forward to it. I'd sent her an email about 6 weeks ago, and had received a read receipt but no answer.

Brenda and I went to junior and senior high school together. She was in my homeroom classes, and had the locker next to mine for the better part of 5 years. While she moved away in our final year, I had still very much considered her part of our class and hoped she'd consider coming to the reunion. She was always a friendly, happy person whom took great joy in her family. I remember when her niece was born, she was over the moon. The baby had been born premature though, and they were worried about her health but she did well. Thriving and leaving the hospital far sooner than expected.

I did a lot of things I'm not entirely proud of in high school, and one of those things was being fairly introverted. I picked and chose the times I'd be friendly, and I was very excitable in those days. So when Brenda moved away, I didn't keep in contact. I would think of her from time to time though but never did anything about it. That was a lot of the reason I wanted to be part of this reunion committee. Instead of meeting people with the focus of some sort of validation, I am reconnecting as the person I am now - not as I was then. It has been a fantastic experience so far and I've been enjoying meeting up with people in a way I hadn't expected.

When I opened the paper up on the weekend and saw Brenda's obit, I was sad. I wrote an email to her family and had been trying to figure out how I could attend her memorial service this weekend.

Then the phone rang this morning. My Mom's voice said simply 'Diane's gone'. I knew immediately who she meant, although I hadn't seen Diane in the better part of 4 years. Diane died of breast cancer on Monday.

In a time I don't often speak of, I had another life. I was with J for 10 years and while he and I split, one of the biggest voids in my life was all the friends and family I had on 'his' side when we were together.

J and I met when I was 17. We grew up together. We socialized together. His family took me in as their own. Then he and I grew apart and realized in the wedding planning stage that our life together was not meant to be. While I don't have anything to do with him, his mom made certain that I stayed in contact with her. She and his sister were insistent that breaking up with him did not mean breaking up with them. That was 12 years ago now and while I don't see the rest of the family any longer, I do still keep in close contact with his mom (whom I still refer to as my ex-MIL) and his sister. I keep updated on the family through them.

Diane was my ex-MIL's best friend. An amazing lady who raised four children of her own before taking on as many foster children as she could. She was strict and stern - a very no-nonsense lady, but her kids were raised with love. A lot of these foster children she raised were the worst cases, yet today every single one of them is successful and accomplished. Even after her husband and she divorced, she still took in more foster children and adopted more children of her own.

I can remember so many nights in her home, helping her with the babies. One in particular - a severe fetal alcohol syndrome case - could never settle and we would spend hours with that little girl walking up and down the halls. We would do crafts at her home, and she was the one who probably got me most into scrapbooking and pushed me into photography.

After J and I broke up, I didn't see Diane nearly as much as I used to. This is still one of the hardest things - losing the extended family and friends I had then. I would catch up with her in the mall now and then, or hear from ex-MIL how she was.

Three years ago, she found that lump we all fear. She battled fiercely, as fiercely as she had for the welfare of her children but in the end it wasn't enough. On Monday, she couldn't hold on any longer and passed away.

Her father - a crusty old man who would regail us with stories of firefighting and investigation from his nearly 50 years of experience - passed away just 3 days previous. He had said over and over that he couldn't outlive his daughter, and in the end he didn't. He was there to greet her in whatever afterworld we will find.

I phoned ex-MIL immediately, surprised at how emotional I got at the sound of her voice. Imagine my surprise when I heard they'd had an informal gathering the night before with the out of town family and my name came up. I was still remembered and still part of the family to them. Even after 12 years, they wanted to know where I was.

So on Saturday, while I'd love to be able to pay my respects to both, I will be going to Diane's memorial. It will not be easy. It's a part of my life that, while has it's wonderful memories, also has more than it's share of negative ones. I try and shut those out, but the fact remains that it was a very difficult time in my life. I will be seeing people whom know me as that person and not as the person I am now. However, for Diane, I will put that aside and I will be there for her and her family.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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