It seems I am always writing about death and grief, but what better place than my blog to “get it out of my system”- so I hope you will bear with me. I lost a friend last night, unexpectedly and out of the blue. She was not old, only 67. We became friendly about 2 years ago, but more recently had become closer, seeing each other once a week for coffee, and keeping in touch throughout the week in between our visits. Wednesday night she sent me a text telling me she had a great story to share with me this coming Saturday over coffee- I should remind her to tell me. She died Thursday night.
Her name was Tova- which in Hebrew means “good” and that is truly what she was. A more positive person I have never known. She was thankful everyday for the good in her life, though her life had not been easy many times over the years. Cancer when she was in her 40s, Osteoporosis that left her with spontaneous breaks here and there, a benign brain tumor 2 years ago, and this past October she suffered a fall that left her with three broken vertebrae in her neck, a broken elbow and pelvis. Her motto in life was simply to focus on the positive in a bad situation and move forward. “Thank God it wasn’t worse” she would tell me as she walked me to the elevator in the rehab with her cane and healing hip and the screws in her neck. And she meant it. The words were not just some mantra she was trying to convince herself of, she really meant it. She was grateful she could walk. She pushed herself onward, back to the life she loved, the husband she had met and married at age 50- her first marriage.
There is an expression in Hebrew “Simchas ha Chaim” which means Joy of Life, and that is what Tova personified. She taught in the school where I work, and to see her smile in the hall coming towards you was always a gift. She spread her good nature, and if you were smart you grabbed it up and followed her lead, and looked at the bright side of things.
Of course she had her dark moments, her accident in October was frustrating for her as she had intended to begin working on a steady basis this year and this was a set back. No driving for months, spending 6 weeks in rehab, but she would not dwell on it, she would acknowledge that it was unfortunate, but she could not change what happened, and so instead would focus and do her best to work hard to recover.
She was to come back to work next Monday, and had come into school to see the Principal on Wednesday of this week- on her own- she had not been asked to come in. She popped in to say hello and tell him how much she was looking forward to returning. Thursday evening he received a call from her husband she had had a heart attack and most likely would not recover. She did not.
The school sent out an email this morning, which most of us read after we were already in school, which you can imagine made it a hard morning. One of the teachers who also knew Tova well said she felt sorry for the people who did not really know her, those who had never experienced her warmth and cheer and positive attitude. It was a gift to know her, to interact with her, and to be her friend.
She will be remembered by everyone for her good nature, her kind words, her ever present smile, her cup always not half full, but full.
Her voice still in my head telling me “it’s all good”- we’re here aren’t we?” Yes, we are Tova, but it will not be the same here without you.