Now for the difficult post. My friend Victoria passed away yesterday. The cancer won in the end—at least as far as her life on earth is concerned. Most of you don’t know Victoria, but she was a founding member of the writing group that I’ve been part of for about thirty years now. She could tell you exactly how many years; that’s the sort of thing she remembered. I joined the group a couple of years after it got started. It was bigger then. But for a very long time now, it’s been five of us: Victoria, Craig, Richard, Mary, and me. I hesitate to say that it’s now just four. She’s going to be with us for a long time, even if she can’t physically be there. (We never named the group formally, but always just called it the Writing Group, as though that were a perfectly good proper name, and maybe it is.) We have been not just workshop partners, but dear friends. We’ve been with each other through marriages, divorces, kids born, kids gone to college, careers won and lost, and family members and other friends lost to the reaper. We’ve been mad at each other, and we’ve cheered for each other, and pursued both life and the written word together. We’ve also bitched about getting old together.
Here’s a picture of the Group taken on the day she married George. I’m not sure what year that was, somewhere around 1990. (Craig, Rich, Victoria, me, Mary. We’ve all greyed a bit since then.)
I’m sad to lose her to something as dreadful as colon cancer, but I’m glad she was able to find so much joy in her last year. Her husband George hardly ever left her side, and friends literally from all over the world prayed for her and sang for her and sent her thoughts of healing and love. She and George, some years ago, became intensely active in the world of shape-note singing, and they traveled far and wide to join with others in their love of this particular form of music. (There’s another name for it, but it escapes me at this moment.)
Allysen and I saw her a few weeks ago, and she knew then that she didn’t have too much longer. But what struck us more than anything was the amount of life she still had in her. We talked and laughed, and even discussed having the Group meet gathered around her bed some weekend afternoon. That never happened; she got too weak soon after.
I suspect a lot of her friends are singing for her right now, and for George whom she left, and I hope she’s at peace. I’m sure she is. Bye, Victoria. Peace, always.