…and it’s bound to get worse.

Nov 23, 2013 | 4 comments

Nancy Russel Stone

Nancy Russel Stone

My girlhood friend Nancy Stone has been posting a “gratitude” each day of November.  I read them eagerly and, as they have accumulated, am amazed at their variety and breadth of subject.  The morning Bob Pyle’s email arrived telling of his beloved wife Thea’s death the afternoon before, my thoughts flew to my own gratitudes – how thankful I am for my many friendships, how honored I feel to have known Thea, even slightly.

And I thought of the friends we have lost since summer.  Ten.  Too many in such a short time – which is one of those ridiculous statements, of course.  One is too many from my selfish, mortal point of view.  Ten in just a few weeks seems unthinkable.

It’s not that we knew all of them well.  But, they had been in our home or we in theirs.  We had shared meals or done business or gone to parties with them.  They were a part of who we are and how we are woven into this community.  Each of them enriched our lives in complex and intricate ways.

I remember one of the first conversations I ever had with my mother about death.  We were here in Oysterville and the women of the town were getting the church ready for a funeral.  I think it was probably for Harry Wachsmuth who died in 1943.  I was seven. No doubt I was asking a lot of “why” questions and I remember that my mother told me that “God needed Mr. Wachsmuth in Heaven.”  Inevitably,  I asked yet another “Why?” and she said something like “We’ve had a long time to visit with Mr. Wachsmuth and now it’s God’s turn.”


Carol Newman

I don’t know if that response satisfied my seven-year-old quest for answers.  But I do know that when I read Bob’s loving description of his last days with Thea, the thought that flew into my mind was “But hasn’t God taken enough people we know for now?  Can’t He visit with those He already has for a while and let everyone else we know be?”  It was a selfish, seven-year old thought – unbidden and not even one I can defend at the elderly age of seventy-years-later.

Yesterday, as we were driving home after a lovely lunch with across-the-river  friends Michael and Petra, we listened to Carol Newman’s “Arts Live and Local” on KMUN.  She paused in her interviews and played a song dedicated to Thea and Bob.  It was a song unfamiliar to me but it was the perfect choice.  The tears streamed down my face – for Thea, for Kash and Ginger and Brad, for Clyde and Polly, for Les and Joan and Rod and Jim.  For all the friends who we will only be visiting in memory now.  Too many gone.  Too soon.

But as Nyel says, “At our age, it’s not going to get better…”


  1. Nancy

    To write that it was a shock to see my face (photo taken the the garden of Sydney and Nyel’s home, several years ago) looking at me from Sydney’s blog is an understatement. To read what she wrote about me humbles me. My gratitudes are many. To continue reading about death, which is a reality, heaped more gratitudes upon my shoulders. A plan for today has been to write a letter to the son of a friend of mine who recently flew into the wide blue yonder. Nina was more than amazing in all that she did and I want her son to be able to read words about her from a person he will never meet. Another gratitude-gift in that we can share ourselves with others. Thank you dear friend, Sydney….what to write about today?????

  2. Clay Nichols

    Your “and it’s bound to get worse” thoughts resonated with me to the point of initially instilling a somber mood on this beautiful sunny morning. And I don’t’t resent this; it’s just a sobering reality as we note the accelerating rate of departure of our friends and loved ones. Time does seem to “Heal all wounds”, and it’s certainly pleasant to reminisce on the long departed, as evidenced by the joy associated with your creative, bringing to life of our region’s pioneers.

    It’s the fresh wounds inflicted by the reoccurring announcements by calls, and other more modern marvels of modern communication that remind us of the losses yet to come, and our own mortality. Last week in Washington D,C. I attended a meeting I had helped plan commemorating the accomplishments of geoscientists during the last 25 years. I had simply not comprehended the awareness this would bring of the diminishing ranks of those so prominent in our individual memories.

    I realized now that I need to learn to transition more quickly from dwelling on losses, and turn rather, to positive thoughts on lives to celebrate and emulate. Thank you Sydney, for encouraging us to think (or perhaps, to meditate0.

  3. Skyler

    “I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
    So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been time out of mind.
    But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”

    -Edna St Vincent Millay

  4. Stephanie Frieze

    Nyel is correct. It used to be that we attended contemporaries weddings; then it was their children’s weddings. Those were the happy times. Then came the funerals of our friends parents. In the turning of the wheel comes saying goodbye to each other. I truly believe that those we love are not far away.


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