Don’t wait for next time


Yesterday we learned that newscaster Cokie Roberts died and a few hours later my husband found out that his cousin Micheline had died. I first met her 40 years ago when I went to Paris for the first time on our honeymoon. We’ve visited Paris often, so I got to know her and her three kids, who are as much a part of Paris for me as the Eiffel Tower.

Our most recent get together was a few months ago, when we had dinner at the house of the oldest son of Micheline’s (that’s the construction the French would use, one of many things I learned from this family). Marion, the daughter of Micheline, was away. I missed seeing her but thought: “I’ll see her next time.”  

Micheline hadn’t been feeling well and was quiet so we didn’t chat as much as we had in the past. I thought: “We’ll talk more next time.” Her English was better than my French but we always managed to connect. After our initial meeting, I told my husband, “I knew that she understood me because she laughed at my jokes.”

He smiled. “Micheline told me when she doesn’t understand, she just laughs.” Okay, it didn’t matter. We were always happy to get together and managed to find out what was going on with the other despite the language difference. Though we didn’t see each other often, she and her family mattered to me. They owned a dance studio in the Marais, Centre du Danse, which was always fun to visit.

Yesterday there was a flurry of phone calls as we commiserated with family in Texas who, like us, were stricken by the loss of this very special cousin. Yes, we knew Micheline had some health problems, but we expected her to be there. We should have learned from what happened to Notre Dame that things can change at any time with no notice.

I hope to learn from this experience and grief to remind myself that any meeting could be the last one and make it count.