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.