Wednesday, 23 February 2011


sunny, fairly mild, am still in pajamas!

And plan to be all day! Barely moved from the bed. Watched Twister. Dreadful movie. I remembered it as being silly, but fun. Now it just seems ridiculous. Oh well. Watched the documentary on Pat Tillman last night. What an indictment. Very powerful. So I suppose Twister would pale.

Had some very sad news today. A friend I never met, but corresponded with has died. Connie Dean. She wrote a few months ago - in the autumn - that she wasn't feeling all that well and when it didn't get better she had a scan. Then she wrote that the doctor wanted to see her and Tom. Then she wrote that it didn't look good. Then the news. Pancreatic cancer.

We exchanged a few emails over the proceeding months, as she hoped for some treatments. But then learned she didn't qualify.

through it all her emails were hopeful and cheery. About wigs, and chemo, and grandchildren. About deciding where to put her energy.

But mostly they were about Tom. The man she loved and was about to leave.

I sent her the manuscript of A Trick of the Light to read, just after Christmas. If she wanted.

Tom wrote a week ago that Connie was no longer able to speak.

Last night he wrote to say she'd died.

Michael came to me in tears when he read Tom's short message. He remembers so well losing his first wife, Shelagh, to lung cancer. When he thought he'd die too, from sorrow and loneliness. He didn't die, of course. And got back up, and even opened his heart again.

I wrote to Tom. Tried not to be trite. To offer facile words. But perhaps to let him know we know what a remarkable woman has been lost.

Hope you're well - but I suspect among you some of you are facing your own difficult times. I hope, within that, you can find some peace. And even, like Connie, some laughter.


Anonymous said...

Louise, you know, there's a saying something like a person says, "if I can save even one life..." by, say, getting somebody to have a breast exam or stop taking drugs or..any number of things...well, your post made me think that even if you only touched one, well, 2 lives, Connie and Tom's, and brought them some love and comfort, that would be enough. Yet I know this isn't and won't be, a single instance. Hugs.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

My heart is breaking for Connie and Tom, and you and Michael as well on losing a good friend. I don't know the right words to ever say in situations like this except that - my thoughts and a hug go out to all of you tonight. Be well, and I hope for your hearts to heal soon.

martha said...

You are a very special woman, caring so much for others. No wonder your characters are so special too!

lil Gluckstern said...

Life is such a conundrum, so much joy and so much sorrow.My heart goes out to you and Michael, and your friends.

Darlene said...

Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your friend. To Tom as well, of course, my thoughts are directed. My husband died of pancreatic cancer just over two years ago. The worst, once knowing there would be no good ending, after all the chemo, etc., was standing by unable to help. Just being there, and being unable to do anything to change it. I asked one of our home care nurses what we could do. She said, after years in palliative care, that she saw it as walking beside a person who is travelling a rocky path, and that we were there to be with them, to help support them emotionally and psychologically as they travel that road. Not much, but something.

Anonymous said...

"And life is eternal and love immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight?"

Not sure of the source, but the sentiment says it all.

Ann Mason RN ret, Hospice

Cheryl Bower said...

Louise, I have a blog (some business, mostly personal) and just spoke of this same thing. Some people in the world are filled with Light. Connie Dean sounds like that; the world is less without people like her in it. 15 years ago I had breast cancer; I am so grateful someone spoke to me about breast exams for early detection. My sister is now going through the same. We sometimes need to stop for one moment, breath and acknowledge those that touch us in life. My heart goes to Tom.

Diane said...

The courage of people like your friends and your husband in the face of death never fails to move and amaze me. I'm sorry so for the loss.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear all,

Thank you for these thoughts. What hearts you have. I love all your words and messages - so much to consider. Darlene, so sorry for your loss. My father died of pancreatic cancer too. What a wonderful thing your palliative care nurse said to you - how perfect. Walking beside someone who is on a rocky path. Being there to support them when they slip, or stumble, or are afraid. But it's their path.

Very, very powerful. But I'm sorry you had to walk that path at all.

Thank you all.

Darlene said...

Thanks very much, Louise.

Dana Whitney said...

I've read all your blog posts from today back to here... and (finally) must express my gratitude and admiration for your generous spirit (as well as your nifty writing, observations and philosophies). You must be a wonderful friend!
(And remind me of a writer friend of mine who died 5 years ago from melanoma... too soon to get her book distributed well... but not to soon to have a place in my heart forever.)
Best wishes to you, yours (including hubby and dog!)