My book group most recently gathered on March 22, and all of us remarked on the absence of our friend Carol. “She’s never sick,” “She never misses,” and similar comments greeted the news that she wouldn’t be joining us that night. The following Saturday we learned that she had pancreatic cancer, and the following Tuesday she died. The swiftness and shock of it all were evident on the faces of her friends and family who gathered for the memorial two days
I wailed to my husband, “she never even got to retire!” when I first heard the news. But as I talked to him about her, and as I watched the pictures in the slideshow that her family prepared, I reflected on the fact that this woman really enjoyed and made the most out of her life. A determined feminist and an excellent family attorney, she was tough, professional, and opinionated. She considered marriage a form of indentured servitude while being happily not married to the same man for over forty-seven years. She loved her children and grandchildren and reveled in introducing them to experiences that ranged from the joys of camping to the splendors of Paris. Her maternal side was not something that she showed to everyone, but it was as strong and tender and full of conviction as her fierce professional side.
Carol was a woman of passion and curiosity. A world traveler, she voyaged to far-flung places like Bhutan, Nepal, and Denmark (to name just a few) in addition to regularly visiting Yosemite and New York City. She returned from these travels full of stories and information about the culture, governments, and cuisine. She often brought dishes to book group that she learned to prepare during her travels because she loved to cook. A devotee of Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she hated the movie Julie and Julia. A super fan of ballet, she hated the film Black Swan. I told you that she was opinionated, didn’t I? If one of our chosen books didn’t hold her interest after fifteen or twenty pages, she didn’t waste her time reading it because she had other things she wanted to learn and explore. She loved plays and playwrights and recently joined the board of a local theater company. She worked out regularly and became a fitness enthusiast. She always had something that piqued her interest, and she always had time to offer help to a friend in need.
So as I think about her too short life, I have to admit that she lived it well. Whether flying off for a long weekend in order to see a Balanchine revival, a Tom Stoppard play or a grandchild, or simply reading, cooking, and doing a crossword puzzle with her beloved, she did what she wanted in the way that she wanted. I will miss her.