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Friday, April 05, 2002
      ( 5:55 PM ) Jackie  


My friend LaVerne died on Wednesday morning. LaVerne was very private about her illness. She had stopped seeing most of her friends and only occasionally answered a phone call. Happily I saw her recently. Late last week, after not hearing from her, I went over with flowers and strawberries, hoping to see her. Her son came out to the porch and gave me some reasons why she couldn't see me. When I asked about her health, he said, "Mom's fine." I was glad that she called me after that and that we exchanged "I love you" when we said good-bye.

I am glad that she had two of her sons with her when she died, and that they had a hospice nurse to help them all through her illness. I know she was peaceful when she died.

I think of a favorite book, The Tenth Good Thing about Barney, a book that can still make me cry just when I think about the title. I want to enumerate what was good about LaVerne, her commitment to justice, her style, her dignity, her humor, her intelligence, her intensity and energy, her courage, how she tried to raise her boys into good men, how she told the truth about the world....And all of these are part of who she was. But it's that ineffable spirit that I love.

Last night our drum class drummed for her and those who loved her. Tomorrow there is a memorial, a "viewing" here in Oakland. Then her body will go to St. Louis, her home, where she wanted to be buried.

I'll miss LaVerne. I already do. I went to her house this evening with some homemade soup and bread for her sons. It was hard to walk down those 14 steps from the porch to the sidewalk, knowing that I will probably not walk up them again. And that, if I do, she will not be there.

I find myself thinking about picking up the phone to call her, telling her about drum class or a PUEBLO meeting, asking her opinion. I catch myself and am jolted to remembrance. And then I cry.

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Words and photos from Jackie in Oakland, CA. More I cannot tell you ... I won't know what it is until I do it.

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