Several weeks ago I received a call at work from my wife. Her friend since high school, Joy, had been taken to the hospital the night before. She had had an aneurysm that ruptured. She was rushed to the Neurological Center at Jefferson University Hospital where she was placed in a medically induced coma.
She lay in the coma for two and a half weeks as the doctors conducted tests and scans and adjusted her medicine to check her brain function. At first there was some initial optimism, they were reducing her medication and the swelling was reducing proportionally. However, it came to a level where every time they tried to reduce the medicine further, the swelling increased. This led the doctors to determine that there was significant, permanent damage.
On 08 July 2007 Joy passed away at the age of 37. She was a beautiful woman, a great wife and mother of three, and a true friend.
I have some great friends, with whom I don't spend enough time, and I've had great relationships throughout my life. But my wife has more than friends. We refer to them as the coven. They can be somewhat unpleasant to outsiders (or, more accurately, intruders) but with each other they share a relationship that defies simple explanation or wisdom. It has been my good fortune that they have accepted (or tolerated) me, and the members have all chosen mates well.
When word came of Joy's ill health, things were dropped immediately and a small contingent rushed to the hospital. This may not seem out of the ordinary, but there was an immediacy and coordination in their action: they acted out of friendship and sincerity; when they offered to her family anything, the family knew the honesty of the offer. And they complement each other remarkably. When one needed a shoulder to cry on, it was there; when someone needed an arm twisted, it was twisted. And even in a moment of crisis, sadness and anxiety not a cross word was said.
The loss of Joy has been devastating for all who had the honor of knowing her. I know the family, in due time, will come to grips with the tragedy. They are good people. My wife used to remark that when the coven would gather and the conversation would turn on their husbands, Joy used to apologize for not joining in; she had nothing to complain about. Her husband is indeed that fine of a man (he is "That Guy"), and they have three daughters that--well, I hope my own daughter is as good as any of them as she gets older.
As for the coven, they will also survive. It's been said that this will really hit them again on their next gathering. I am certain it will.
But there is no way out of that group. She may not attend physically, but Joy will be there.