I was standing in the kitchen. I had just finished filling the dishwasher. As I stood in front of the sink I felt a soft breeze blowing through the window. It was soft enough to be comforting and yet strong enough to move my hair off my forehead.
The trees look like they were swaying to some silent music. With steady gentle movements, the trees seemed to be calling me to come out side. I started the dishwasher. I got my favorite cup off the second shelf in the cupboard and poured exactly 2 tablespoons of plain creamer in my cup and filled the cup with the last of the coffee left over from breakfast. I hung my dish towel neatly on the towel rack. I took my coffee and walked out the back door to the back yard. I sat down at the table on the patio.
As I sat at the table I just sat there and let the stillness and the sound of the wind fill my mind. I held my cup with both hands. The wind seemed to curl around my fingers. It was as if invisible hands where caressing my hand. This was when the first tears fell.
A few days ago I received a phone call that my cousin Stella had died the night before.
The call was unexpected but then Stella was 77 and had been in poor health for years. She had been in remission with non Hodgkin's disease, two broken hips and multiple other ills until at the end the cancer had come back. The cancer had silently crept into her bones and was beyond treatment when it was found. She died within days.
Memories of Stella as a young a young bride and later as a mother filled my mind. Bud, her husband and Stella had come over for Sunday dinner also every Sunday. One particular Sunday I had taken Joy, her daughter, out in the front yard to keep her entertained. She was just learning to walk and was saying just a few words. I taught her daughter to say, “I love Mommy”. I remember the look on her face when we came into the house and Joy repeated her new words to her mother.
Stella was a strict Catholic and at that time Catholics were advised not to go into a Baptist church. The night I was baptized she was there. When I got married she was there. When my mother died, she was there.
I never heard Stella say a negative thing about anyone. She was one of the kindest and most loving people I know.
I was unable to go to her funeral. I was 1700 miles away. Our first grandchild was due anytime. I was committed to work the next three days. It was impossible for me to be there and yet I wanted too so badly.
My last conversation with Stella she told me she hadn’t been well. She mentioned a fall with her walker and talked about her Scooter that enabled her to get around. She really liked the scooter. She said she wanted me to come visit so we could have a party. They had just gotten a new gas grill and they hadn’t had a chance to use it yet. They had planned to use it that day but decided not too since it was raining. I told her I was planning a trip to see her in Sept. Her comment was, “I want to see you again before I die”. A little red flag went up in my mind. She had never said anything like that before, but I put it aside. The next day I talked with another cousin which I am also very close too and I mentioned the conversation. We discussed plans for a trip to get together and go see her.
This morning sitting there with the cup of coffee, I felt like she had come to me to say Good bye. The wind stirred and for a second the sun was warn on my face it was as if I was kissed on the cheek and I could hear her say, “I love you Dear. I whispered “I love you too Stella and I said Good bye to a cousin and a dear friend.