Tomorrow afternoon, we're going to the funeral of my husband's closest friend.
Bill Davidson was the most vibrant, charming, engaging man I've ever known – robust is the word I used to describe him in a newspaper story I once wrote. He never let me forget it, either.
I fell in love with Bill the first time I met him about 10 years ago. He and my husband met in 1958 when he was directing a wonderful B-movie called Ivy League Killers. He cast Marty, 22 at the time, as one of a gang of young, rather innocent bikers.
Several years later, they reconnected and began a professional partnership that ripened into a best-friendship.
They simply adored each other.
Besides his outstanding career as a television and film producer and director, and screenwriter, Bill was a poet, a lover of words and wordplay. He loved typewriters, too. Then his granddaughter introduced him to one of the first generation Apple iMacs. He was hooked. His email moniker was "finefrogfilet" and he never looked back.
He and my husband preferred corresponding by email and their messages were long and literary, laced with wit and writerly hijinks, puns and playfulness. As well, there were always these peculiar, indecipherable references to The Young and The Restless. They were both shamelessly addicted.
I've been thinking about how Bill lived. He hated replacing things – preferred old to new – and always found the most fascinating people to do his repairs. A gentle giant, gregarious and curious, Bill loved collecting quirky, odd, idiosyncratic folks and their stories, which he then added to his wide-ranging repertoire of entertaining tales.
When we were with Bill and his wife, Mary, there was always side-splitting laughter. They had their problems – no one escapes this life without them – but Bill managed to find a funny side to those, too. He spliced his misadventures with wit and wisdom, humour and humility. He was a brilliant raconteur. Bill never simply told his stories, he re-enacted them, playing all the parts. He seemed to stop time. He was ageless and timeless.
He was 81.
That might sound old to you, but it's not old anymore.
This weekend, ironically, after several years, I heard from another friend who works as a professional "permanent companion," caring for aging people, no longer able to live on their own. Right now, she's caring for a woman about to turn 101.
Ursula has no home, no permanent address, no belongings, other than her clothes and whatever else she can fit into a suitcase. She has a car, a cell phone and an email address.
She's gloriously happy.
"I live in the now," she told me. She doesn't know when her current assignment will end or where her next one will be. When she cares for people, they tend to live longer than they or anyone else expects. She befriends them and enriches their lives.
She travels with them, cooks for them and entertains their families. She creates a warm, homey, loving environment for them and when they die, she moves on.
When I was about 13 and Ursi was 16, my mother hired her as a "mother's helper" for the summer at our cottage. She was a cute, bubbly teenager from Oshawa, where she lived with her family.
Every summer, for years, she came back, eventually becoming an honourary member of our family.
That first summer, she remembers me at my most vulnerable, my most histrionic, my most emotional. I had no diagnosis yet. I was at the beginning of my psychiatric journey.
"It was quite hectic," she wrote in response to an email I sent with a picture of me attached, taken that first summer. "Dealing with you was on the top of the list at the time."
Now, at 63, she's lived and married, remarried and had several different business careers. She has a daughter and a grandson. She admits she's made a lot of mistakes, but "I'm happier than I've ever been."
When I saw Dr. Bob three weeks ago, I was so stressed out I couldn't function.
He asked me one question. "What can you let go?"
We came up with a strategy. Since then, I've made some major adjustments. One of them is to live in the present. To stop dwelling. To do whatever I'm doing, 110% at the time.
And then, let it go.
It's amazing. I planned a month of Wednesday morning sessions with Dr. Bob, but I only needed one.
Something twigged. I'm relaxing. Sleeping.
What a providential weekend this was. We lost our dear, darling friend, Bill, and on the day he died, my nomadic childhood friend and helpmate, Ursula surfaced. Out of the blue.
We're having lunch next week. We're grabbing the moment.
That's what life means to me. That's how I want to live.