The Death of a Friend

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

2-girlfriendsI lost Sue, one of my closest friends, a few days ago. She just couldn’t fight the complications her body imposed on her from the recent onslaught of leukemia and subsequent chemotherapy. I was told she died peacefully in her daughter’s arms. I hope she was aware enough in her morphine haze to realize that she was lovingly cradled through her passage.

I’m walking around in a fog—can’t quite grasp it all. It doesn’t make any sense that I can’t just pick up the phone, call Sue, and hear her on the other end: “Oh, hi Trixie,” a nickname she anointed me with on our trip to Europe together thirty-five years ago shortly after we became friends. How can I now be speaking about her in the past tense? I don’t like it; I refuse to do it! Will my pathetic rebellion bring her back?

So many thoughts, memories. I look at things in my house and remember a comment she made, an item she gave me, something I purchased when I was with her. A few weeks ago, I finally threw out the package of all-natural pineapple popsicles wasting space in my freezer that she bought after making the four-hundred mile trip to visit me in my new home just two and a half months ago. She loved them; I hated them. I wish I had kept them.

During that visit, Sue treated Cousin Judy, me, and herself to manicures following our lunch at a local restaurant. We dominated the shop, talking, laughing, just hanging out as the staff worked on us. A few weeks later, I told her I wanted to do that again; I feel cheated out of it.

I’m thinking of revisiting skiing after a hiatus of a few years. Sue started me on that addiction.

“Let’s go skiing,” she suggested one day early in our friendship.

“Oh, not me. I don’t know how to ski. I’m not that athletic. I don’t have any skis or ski clothes.”

She ignored my protestations and brought me into her bedroom. Drawers were opened and an assortment of ski clothes, nothing matching, was thrown onto the bed. My first days on the bunny hill announced to the world that I was a newbie and had had to beg my ensemble. I learned, became hooked, bought myself the equipment and attire, and we skied together for years.

I don’t understand death. How can one so vital be here one moment and not the next, leaving only an empty shell that looks like her but can’t say, “Oh, hi Trixie”?


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7 responses to “The Death of a Friend

  1. Sheila Sauber

    My condolences, Lee Gale, on your loss Of “BFF” Sue. From experience I can relate That I missed my BFF Marsha every day For at least a year. It was a very hard adjustment living without her evening good night email and call the next morning. I’m so glad she got up north to see you and Your new lifestyle. Was she the one you were Coming to LA to visit this month? Were You at her funeral? Any luck finding a home For Stephanie? All is well here….had lunch with Lois, Joyce, Rita today. Missed you. Leah says hi. 💋Sheila

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    • Roger Trammell

      I was sorry to hear about the loss of your friend,LGG, it’s always a hard thing to go through.When someone my age or younger passes, I think about the fact that one day it will be me…not comforting, but a realistic connection with my own mortality that slips my mind during my day-to-days. Cherish the memories of good times spent together.

      • So well said, Rog. Death was always something that happened to older people. When it’s a contemporary, and especially a close one, I, too, drift to thoughts that one day it will be me. It’s too heavy to dwell upon for long, so I slip back into denial mode until the thoughts come again–a seesaw of the mind.

  2. so sorry, Lee Gale. thanks for sharing with us

  3. Gary

    I sure know what wanting to pick up the phone and remembering that my service isn’t THAT long distance. …………

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