Early yesterday morning, my mom's oldest friend died. Sonia met my mother when they were both in elementary school here in Vancouver, almost 60 years ago. By comparison, that's like my older daughter staying friends with one of her classmates until 2066. There was an autopsy today, but I haven't heard the results yet; we expect a heart attack, following Sonia's bypass surgery not long ago.
I knew Sonia my whole life, along with my mother's two other longtime friends, who have all continued to cook each other fancy dinners and share social events for over half a century. The four of them traveled through Europe for two years in the early sixties, and returned for a month-long reprise in 1981. Sonia was one of my mom's bridesmaids, and the two of them took belly-dancing lessons together in the seventies.
Like her friends, Sonia was an intelligent, independent, and individual woman. She traveled extensively around the world for many years, made and sold paintings, and lived in the same East Vancouver walkup apartment—a few blocks from the house I first lived in as an infant, and where my aunt and uncle live now—as long as I can remember. She never married or had children, and retired from her job with ICBC, our provincial auto insurance agency, several years ago.
Theoretically, hers was not a death in the family, but it's as close as you can get. I last saw her and her dark hair at our Thanksgiving dinner in October. I'll miss her at Christmas.