Even after all these years, I still find it hard to believe that my dear friend is dead.
Both my grandfathers died young, but after marrying, having children, and celebrating their children's marriages. (I'm named for one and my sister, for the other.) One grandmother died in her 60s, the other in her 80s. My father lived a long, full life and died a week short of his 81st birthday.
But Charisse? She was only 32. She'd recently married, despite her cancer diagnosis. She didn't live long enough to have children.
If I feel guilt in life, and Jews and guilt often go hand-in-hand, it's for the time Charisse asked me to fly to Seattle and take care of her when she was in chemotherapy. I didn't really understand what she was asking. I pleaded a busy schedule, no money, no time.
I might have been young and stupid, but I still feel guilt over not having made time with Charisse when she needed me. Dear friend that she was, I don't think she held it against me. And the last time we spoke, I did understand that she was dying, and that I'd been given a rare opportunity to say goodbye.
Charisse had faith. She died with that phrase on her lips: "I have faith." I don't know what she had faith in. Maybe it was in human nature, that we can, when we understand the nature of the situation, do the right thing. Or maybe she had faith in the universe that gave her the chance to say her goodbyes.
I'll never know what Charisse really believed. But I can follow her example, and tell those near and dear that I love them, every chance I get.
Zichrona l'vracha. May her memory be for a blessing to all who knew her.