Dear Linda, who art in Heaven ...
Last year, I called to wish you a happy Valentines Day. I got your daughter instead of you. She told me you died on February 4th, and I was glad to hear that you two had reconciled before your death. That was always near your heart. She apparently didn't know about your desire to have your body donated to science and cremated you instead. Chris laments that we don't have anywhere to go to visit you on this day. But we do plan to remember you in a little service of our own design. We'll light the candle on the sconce of Jesus the Good Shepherd; I will say Saint Francis's "Canticle of Brother Sun" because of your love of nature; and Chris will recite T.S. Eliot's poem "The Naming of Cats" due to your love of all things feline. Speaking of felines, I don't know how Mitzvah is doing. I know your last assistant claimed him, and I hope she's taking good care of him.
I admit that I thought you were a burden a lot of the time--even you have to admit you could be pretty demanding! But after you died, there were times when I'd get back from the psychiatrist and find myself wanting to call you to tell you about a new protocol or my latest prognosis. You know, I used to think you were schizoaffective, depressive type; now I just think you were a mystic whose ways we couldn't even begin to understand. No wonder you were depressed--I can't imagine a mystic who wouldn't be depressed! It seems like a hard thing to bear.
So many people loved you, yet you always said you had no friends. Now I'm doing that! I feel alone in the world, but there are so many people who care for my wellbeing, who miss me at church when I'm gone, who just come over for tea. You had a way with people, and I'm not sure you realized it. I remember being there when your former hospice caretaker came by. You were no longer in hospice care--she had no official reason to be there. People from your church came by all the time to see how you were doing. Heck, Chris and I always came to see you and called you long after the depression group therapy we met in was over.
The thing I regret most is not calling you to wish you "Merry Christmas" in the months before you died. I was with family, overwhelmed by my introversion and agoraphobia. My phone had no reception. I wish I'd called somehow. I wish I'd given you your present. You liked slow cookers, so I thought one of those Wonderbags that were so popular would be a good gift. I almost gave it to your daughter after I found out you died, but we ended up never meeting, and now the sentimentality of it is probably gone. I think I may give it to charity in your memory--for families who don't have everything they need. Methinks you'd like that.
I'd still like to help people who are alone. Maybe one day I'll be able to work--I don't know--stupid depression. For now, I think I'll try my hand at Meals on Wheels. They helped you fairly often. Anyway, I guess it's a little hokey to do this, but I wanted to say hi. And we miss you. And even though you might think you were just a housebound woman, you had an impact on us that we're not likely to forget our whole lives long. Chris and I love you.