I took this photo of my uncle Fred and his girlfriend of 25 years, Simone, back in May when I was visiting them in Maine.
Simone has been my aunt, for all intents and purposes (she refused to talk marriage with my uncle, but ferocious loyalty was never a question), since I was twelve years old. She was a fantastically tenacious, up-front, sassy French lady from Quebec. She was always saying the most hysterical (sometimes highly inappropriate) things, and was a complete hoot once she had one or two glasses of wine. She was at every family dinner and holiday, and took care of my grandmother in her last years. She brought Grandma meals, cleaned for her, and even helped her bathe. When Grandma passed away, Simone and Fred moved into Grandma’s house and Simone always kept it pristine. She took care of Grandma’s belongings as if they were her own. And every time I visited, she insisted on cooking the most incredible meals.
Back in May, we had several lovely conversations while sitting at the kitchen table. I’m so glad I got to spend time with her, just the two of us.
She was a wonderful, lovely lady.
I talked to my cousin (my uncle’s daughter) last night. Simone passed away yesterday, after experiencing complications following triple-bypass surgery. I didn’t even know she was ill, didn’t know she was going into the hospital. She came through the surgery, but the next day her blood pressure bottomed out and they had to take her in for emergency surgery. They attempted a valve replacement but in the end were too late.
I talked to my uncle this morning – the valve replacement was the exact same procedure, conducted in the exact same hospital, that took my mother back when I was eight. My uncle is understandably freaked about that – he was extremely close to my mother, and to have Simone taken in the same way really shook him.
Me… I’m just kind of PISSED. I’m so sick of death I can’t even wrap my mind around it. Simone was in her late 60′s – she should have had many more years with my uncle, tooling all over New England on his motorcycle. Every death, and the grief that follows, is different. Sometimes I’m weighed down, sometimes I’m resigned, sometimes I’m shattered. This time I’m sad… and angry.
Mostly, it makes me sad that I have so many experiences that I can compare.