Even when you know sad news is coming, it still hits hard when it arrives.
I met my neighbor Adrienne and her husband, Ken, through our dogs. And not even in our neighborhood.
We would regularly see each other at the dog park several miles south of our houses. I could not call Jiggs and Foster buddies. They simply had different interests at the dog park. But they always acknowledged one another.
I was later surprised Adrienne and Ken lived a half block from me across the main street in our neighborhood. We would often run across each other in the neighborhood while walking our dogs in the evening.
I also saw Adrienne several times in the State Capitol when she worked with the legislature. It always seemed a bit odd to see my neighbor handling the technical side of a hearing while I was testifying.
While I was in Salem during my return-to-work stay, I saw her and Ken heading to our Saturday Market. We caught up on a few things -- including the death of our dogs.
She then informed me she had been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. And jokingly commented she was not certain she wanted people praying for her. Every time they did, the medical diagnosis was worse.
That was Adrienne. Always turning bad news to good with a wry wit.
Some of you may recall her comments on this blog. She was constantly reminding me that life was to be lived, not to be twiddled away.
And that is how she lived hers. She and Ken spent a good deal of time in Hawaii -- a place they both loved. They were there when I was in Oregon in early March. And I was sorry to have missed her.
On Thursday evening, I received an email that Adrienne had died on Sunday. In his email, Ken added some poignant notes.
About half way through that 4-week plan [in Hawaii], she began to feel that she was going downhill faster, and insisted that we come home before she became too sick to fly. I resisted that for a while, knowing that she really wanted to be in the warmth of the Islands, both physically and emotionally. She prevailed, of course, and we came back to Salem 9 days early. After we made the flight changes, we had our tsunami adventure, but we were safe, as the condo was 120 feet above the water.
We flew back to Salem late on March 16, stayed at an airport hotel, and returned home on the 17th. She started hospice the next day. While her decline kept progressing, we all thought we had another week or two to finish many of the plans we were making. She and I had planned on Sunday to write lists of the music she was selecting for her service, items that she wanted to give to certain people, and gifts she wanted for the charities we support. Now, I will have to make those lists without her direct guidance.
I will miss Adrienne -- a lot. She always added a bit of spice to my life each time I saw her.
And it is true that by knowing her my life has been changed for the better.
What more can we ask of our friends?