When my friend Jeff married Elka several years ago, I lucked out because while at first she was ‘Jeff’s wife,’ over the years she became ‘my friend Elka.’ I remember saying to Jeff one night, as he drove me to my train after a visit, that I liked Elka more and more every time I saw her.
About three years ago, Elka was diagnosed with cancer. Over the long months of treatment, I was rarely geographically near, but I tried to be there for her long-distance. I read every CaringBridge post and commented regularly so she and Jeff would know I was thinking of them. I emailed, made a couple of visits when I was in town and her health allowed it, and I sent beautiful pictures because she said they made her happy. After one particularly brutal chemo session, she asked me to send her more photos, so I put together a slideshow titled ‘Beauty for Elka.’ It was one of the last times I would send her photos (and receive one of her enthusiastic thank-yous), as she died within weeks.
A couple of months ago, I was telling a friend how much I missed Elka. I said, ‘I’m not trying to pretend we were best friends, but . . .’ My friend finished the sentence for me, ‘she was a positive and beautiful presence in your life.’
Exactly. And somehow, sharing the ‘Beauty for Elka’ slideshow is a way to memorialize her on this first anniversary of her death.
Images © Melissa Corcoran.