Waiting for the Tsunami

No Telling


It’s a funny thing, all this science predicting natural occurrences. Historically, acts of God came on suddenly, randomly. Now we can watch numbers bounce off of carefully placed buoys bobbing about in the ocean, those numbers singing to satellites which turn them into warnings, a chance to gather supplies, find higher ground. There is time, now, to evade the Great Wave.

On Tuesday, my friend Olive Hilliard did not hear the singing. She died the next day from the massive stroke that never bothered to give her warning. Olive was 52, a mother, a sister, a teacher, a light.

For three years, Olive and I shared a windowless office and our lives. We nursed each other’s wounds, bragged, cursed, ate chocolate and dieted. We traded the secrets of teaching and wept over our children. Two women talking in an enclosed space, we decided, could eventually repair all the broken things in the world. I still believe that’s true.

The fact that she is gone now feels like a lie. Her beautiful children, the reflection of her goodness and bottomless love, had no chance to gather reserves, find higher ground before losing their mother. Their lives now are split into two chapters, and they have to figure out how to live in this new story. I ache for them.

The rest of us, her friends and women of a certain age, are hugging our children more closely. Whether we talk about it or not, we’re suddenly listening to our internals for signs of the singing, hoping we’ll be able to predict The Wave where Olive could not. And we grieve.

25 thoughts on “Waiting for the Tsunami

  1. Thank you all. I've heard from so many of Olive's friends since I posted this, and everyone begins by talking about her goodness.

    This is the time to call all of your beloved friends and reconnect. This is the time to make that appointment for a check-up. This is the time.

  2. I considered her my best friend — I miss her so much already. I know the funeral tomorrow will be one of the most difficult I've had to attend. Definitely time to reconnect with all of your friends. ~ Robin Stauffer

  3. I shared that same office with Olive for three years, and I think I'm still in denial. It seems like just yesterday she brought her students into the Writing Center for a tour.

    We at the Center sent our own flowers because we wanted her family to know how much we appreciated her constant support. The world will not be as bright a place without her.

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