A Lovely Young Woman

They don’t know what happened. They don’t know why she died.

The hospital doesn’t know either. They will have to examine her to determine the cause.

She was…lovely. She was pretty, that’s for sure, but it was this…loveliness, that radiated from her. It wasn’t a force-field or anything, and it didn’t knock you over from its power, but that’s loveliness for you: it’s a quiet, almost imperceptible glow that gently reaches out to ripple across you, if you let it.

She was nothing like me. She had been brought up in the South and so had that Southern politeness about her; I had that “You’re an idiot” personality. I’m more of the wise-cracking, fast-talking, lived-in-other-countries type; she struck me as more of the quiet(er), hearth-and-home type. And of course there was that different-generation thing.

There had been a matrimonial situation in her past that wasn’t taken to completion; I believe she was sad about that, although I think her sadness was not so much about the other person but about the delay in her chance to start her own hearth and home. I could tell she thought a lot about things, even if she didn’t blurt those thoughts out.

She was the younger daughter and the auntie. One of her favorite things was looking after her toddler niece; there was definitely a glow on both sides when they were together. Funny, until just now I hadn’t realized that she and I had those exact two things in common.

I almost didn’t know her. She was the daughter of a cousin, which made her a second-something or a first-something once removed; I don’t know the legal term. I knew of her, of course, because it’s a big family and even if you move away somebody else in the family always knows your status and the status of your family, and somehow that gets telegraphed around until most of the family knows how you are and who’s been taking horse-back riding lessons.

They came back to here, like families within families do, but the closer proximity didn’t reacquaint me with them. They were still on the family telegraph line, and that was enough.

But eventually this family and myself reached out to each other. I was invited down to lunch. Lunch was fun, it was happy; nobody was checking their online accounts, nobody seemed to want to be somewhere else.

The older I get the more I understand the word family. My immediate family had some events and personalities in it that damaged its fabric forever, but that’s in the past for me now and I am able to see what a joyous and supportive thing a family can be, and am deeply, deeply grateful that I am able to recognize this about families and to participate tangentially in them.

This was one of those families. Intact, loving, close. There’s a third generation in that family now, and it’s a wonder the little one still has a face, it’s been covered with kisses since about nine seconds after she was born. This is the family to envy. They tease each other, they laugh with each other, they know and accept each other. Everybody liked each other. I got the impression that everybody talked to everybody else every single day, and multiple times.

If there was ever a family that should’ve been torn asunder by the vicissitudes of life it was this one, but this one did not. I get the feeling that they absolutely refused to. Reversals in fortune, reversals in health, it seems almost as if every single punch-in-the-gut thing that could happen to a family happened to this one. And yet they remained family, important to each other, helping each other get through the worst of it, celebrating their victories.

I can’t really describe the loss of this lovely young woman whom I had only recently met. I don’t have to be with her family to hear their keening, their lamentation, their cries of grief and disbelief.

I am so, so sorry that she is gone.

One Reply to “A Lovely Young Woman”

  1. It is such a sad thing when you weep for another and have no power to make any of it any better other than to hug them and say time will heal. Life is truly unfair and your words pretty much convey to any stranger how lovely she truly was. I, as you, did not know her well and did not have lunch but wish I had taken the time to be a better friend to any of these wonderful people and make a lunch date. She is gone and there is now a hole that I hope some day is filled in with laughter and memories and funny phrases and pictures. Perhaps deposits are already being dropped in. I hope so. Thank you for writing about her in a wonderfully eloquent way that I imagine is your way. 🙂

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