When Evelyn first started on her brief journey with pancreatic cancer last May, my friend Nay Nay in Maryland, contacted me to tell me about the strangest thing that happened to her. She set her GPS and followed the directions, only to wind up in the parking lot of Johns Hopkins on the other side of town from where she wanted to be. On the same day that Evelyn started chemo. She suggested I come up and we could go out on their boat, get pedicures. Have some fun. Evie nixed it, saying she had good days and bad. So I dutifully told Nay about Ev's desire to get through the chemo and do it on the other side.
Several weeks ago, Hud was learning to text. We were sitting on the couch, sending messages to one another. (Modern life!) All of the sudden, a small robot rabbit, Evelyn had given me for my birthday six years ago while I was in Richmond for a visit, jumped from the bookcase where it has resided all these years. I picked it up and replaced it. Fifteen minutes later, it threw itself to the floor again. No other object (and there are MANY) had moved a silly milimeter. I looked at Hud. "Something's wrong with Ev," I said flatly. I emailed her in the morning with queries of news. She replied, "No, no news, it must have been a cosmic boom."
my Aunt Boo made me when I was born.*
The next day Evie was admitted to Johns Hopkins as an inpatient. They explained the cancer was advancing at a phenominal rate. She made the brave decision to stop treatment. And go home.
Yesterday, I texted our mutual friend, Nancy, to see if she had any news. I texted Evelyn that I loved her. I texted Hud about making plans.
At 4:15 in the afternoon, I made mysef a glass of ice water, went to the sink to wash a spoon. When I turned around, the refrigerator was dark. No lights, sounds, dead. I looked at the back of it for some reason. It had come unplugged. The cord lay on the floor for no apparent reason. The refrigerator had not been moved for weeks. I do not know how it happened.
Hud wasn't feeling well and went to bed at 8:00. I was in the den, watching some stupid reality TV to make myself sleepy. At 8:45, the robot bunny starts lighting up and moving its ears. I tried to shut it off, but by 8:50, it was still talking. Its cheeks burned bright red. It said something unintelligible. Which is odd in and of itself because you used to be able to understand its language. I tried to shut it off. Thought I had. Put it back in the box and placed it on the bookshelf. 8:52: the right cheek lights up. Then both cheeks. It chirps. By 8:54, I was sobbing. I knew she was gone. I told her goodbye. The robot rabbit made a laughing sound. And then it stopped. It hasn't moved since.
At 8:24 that same evening, a mutual friend had emailed to tell me that Evelyn had passed peacefully, surrounded by her family in the afternoon. I didn't get it until the next day.
As a child, I had an imaginary friend named Charlie. I got my mother in trouble one day when I was two, by telling my father who had asked me about my day, "Charlie was here." I had the uncanny ability to know when the phone was ringing before it actually made a sound. Once, I told my mother, "Aren't you goinng to get that?" She looked quizically at me and said, "But the phone isn't..." BRRRINNNGGG! And there is a story about me and a book that made a believer out of my grade school librarian. But that's for another day.
Sometimes I wonder if Charlie's still out there. Telling me things I need to know. About my real friends when they can't tell me.
Evelyn would have been forty-nine in ten days. I will miss her every day of the rest of my life.