Posted by: Elizabeth Turrentine | September 4, 2013

BETH

I just returned from three months in England, where one of my daughters lives. What a beautiful time that was! I landed in Denver, where I lived for twenty-five years and raised my family, and where two of them still live. I began calling a few close friends, dating back to that time, and making plans for us to see each other.

When I called my closest Denver friend, Beth, all I got was a ringing tone without the usual voice mail. “Well, maybe she’s on her computer, which is connected to her telephone,” I thought. “But didn’t that give a busy signal?” After trying a few times, I decided she was probably in Canada. She had planned to go there sometime this summer. So then I decided to email her. She was never away from her laptop.

The cryptic automatic message came back saying the email was “permanently
undeliverable.” “Oh dear!” I immediately determined I would drive by her house to see what was up. I knew she had contemplated selling her house in the not-so-distant future, and moving to Canada. Maybe that was happening.

The next day I drove to her house. A big pile of brush was beside the garage, and the driveway was swept clean. The place was deserted as if no one lived there. I thought she probably had taken off for Canada. My next step was to call on the next door neighbors so they could enlighten me abut what was going on.

When I got to their house, the husband said, “Oh, yes, Beth . . . You didn’t know? She died about 3-4 months ago.”

I was stunned. Hearing his words in disbelief. Vivacious Beth? Precious Beth, dead? I had seen her seven months prior. She was in the best of spirits. We had a joyous time together, just like always. Yes, she had a bout with cancer a few years ago, but there was no sign of recurrence. If there had been, she would have let me know. Even if I was in London, we emailed one another the news whenever I was there. I was in shock.

The neighbor invited me in, and we talked.

He said, “It all began, when a man showed up at our door. He said he was one of Beth’s clients, and he hadn’t seen her for a while, nor had she picked up her check for services, as she always did. My wife and I hadn’t seen her in the yard much lately, and wondered about that. We didn’t give it a lot of thought.

“We called the police, of course. When they went in, she was in the bed, alive, but incoherent. She was rushed to the hospital, and lived for a few days, but never regained cognition of her surroundings. The cancer had come back. That’s what happened.

“Her sisters and their husbands came from the west coast. They cleaned out everything in the house and put it up for sale.” That was all the neighbor knew. “She wasn’t herself these past couple of years,” he added. “Much less personable.”

With that, I thanked him and left.

I have spent these last few days trying to comprehend what I had been told about my dear friend. I couldn’t cry. There was no real emotion, actually. Only an inability to fathom that Beth is gone.

I can’t call her. We can’t spend hilarious moments laughing over something silly or a mutual joke. Who will be my Bronco buddy and fill me in on all the latest Bronco team news? Who will I go to the sports bar with to watch “the game?” Or who will introduce me to the newest fine dining restaurant? The list of Beth’s and my shared experiences is endless. How can it be these will only exist in memory now?

This morning, I was finally able to cry. Just as I thought, once the tears started, there was no stopping them. My grief of the loss finally kicked in. It feels unbearable. I am unconsolable.

I now have to begin getting used to being content with her memory, not her presence. News of our beloved Broncos will have to be gleaned from the internet, not Beth’s emotional editorializing. Yes, I’ll have to find my own fine dining places and introduce other friends to them. All this will be a process. It will take as long as it takes. Losing loved ones is part of the ebb and flow of life. With God’s comfort, I will work through it.

Nothing and no one can take away from me the joy that was knowing Beth.

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