Monday, September 12, 2011

Dear Natalie

Thursday the 1st was Madelaine's last day here.  We ran some errands, saw The Help (loved it) and then she finished getting ready.  When we finally went to bed, I could not sleep.  There were too many anxious thoughts to unravel, too many rabbit trails racing off in different directions inside my head.  I waited in the dark for sleep to come, but instead the phone rang at midnight.  It was my dear cousin's retirement home calling.  Natalie had been found on the floor of her apartment, she appeared to have had a stroke and they were taking her to Stanford Hospital.  Two hours later the doctor called to report that yes, she had had a stroke, and that it was severe.  I packed a bag and waited for dawn.  I took Madelaine to the bus station and waved her off into the sunrise, and then drove west to Natalie.




Stanford Hospital is huge. It took a long time to find which ICU she was in, but eventually I found myself by her bedside.  I was there for two days, holding her hand, wishing that the news was better, wishing that this was all a dream.  Finally, when we stepped out for a few minutes on Saturday evening, she passed from this world to the next.  I will miss her so much.




We spent a week with Natalie in Oregon every year for the last thirteen years.  She had never married or had children, so she enjoyed the chance to play grandmother for a week.  She loved seeing the kids splashing in the pool, swinging on the swings, playing shuffleboard.  In the last few years, she and I have made sure we had an afternoon to ourselves, sipping lattes and talking about things.  She was worried about having a stroke, surviving and not being independent anymore.  She was worried about being a burden.  I hope I was able to reassure her that whatever happened, we would be there and it would all be okay.   






And all is okay, despite the gaping hole of grief that has been ripped open once again.  We are working to clear out her apartment, and thanks to the loving help of my friend Marcia and my son Zack, we are done going down to Palo Alto.  It is a solemn and yet sacred thing to go through someone's belongings, to determine what needs to happen to all that is left behind.  Natalie had been getting rid of things bit by bit for years, so the job, while big, could have been a lot bigger.  In every corner I find reminders of her love for us:  a birthday card, a note she saved, pictures of our trips to Oregon, to name a few.

Natalie was a kind, generous, brilliant woman, and I am so grateful to have had the gift of her love and friendship for so many years.




Natalie Anne Cobby
3-31-27 to 9-3-11

Eternal rest grant unto Natalie, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.  Amen.



6 comments:

chris said...

Di,

i'm so sorry!

i'd actually been worried for a while that you'd been having a rough time, because (on your track record) it was unlike you to leave a friday unclived. but i had no idea just how rough a time it was.

i hope that, however difficult it was for you to be there, you also take some comfort in knowing that you were with Natalie at the end. but it must be very hard facing a second loss so soon after the first. i'm praying that despite your grief, you'll be vividly aware of God's love--for you and for your cousin both--and that this awareness will make the grief less unbearable than it would otherwise be.

much love,

chris

Quotidian Life said...

Dear Diane,

I am so sorry for your loss. I'm glad that I was once able to meet Natalie but really, I feel that I know her more from your warm and loving descriptions of her. What a treasure she was! I'm thankful that she did not suffer long and that she was not far from you when the end came. That is a mercy. And, I didn't notice so much before but your resemblance to Natalie really shows in these pictures. May God bless you and your family with comfort and the hope of the resurrection as you mourn Natalie's passing.

Love and prayers,
Melissa

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Oh -- whispering prayers with you tonight... Beautiful Di.

(And might you give Madelaine a long hug from here? I pray with her often...)

More love than thin letters can hold,
Ann

Rebeca said...

May her memory be eternal.

Mary said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings...Mary

mom said...

{{{{{Di}}}}} I'm so sad to hear of your loss. What a dear friend you had in your cousin Natalie!

Blessings,
Tammy ~@~