A Word in Edgewise: Living on the Archipelago
How does one process sudden death? The sudden, violent death of a friend? It is a mere five days since I learned that Beverly Cory, working on a sunny Saturday morning in her office in Mendota Heights, was shot to death.
Beverly was a financial adviser with Edward Jones, a member of our GLBT community, and known and loved by many. I don’t have a grand sum with Edward Jones—“barely perceptible,” at best—but she treated me as though I did. She was, as the news quoted, “the kindest soul.”
“Hi, this is Beverly!” she’d chirp over the phone at intervals, asking if I had any questions. I came to her office just a few weeks ago for a consult. I’d decided that at my age (76 to her 48), I wanted to move from slow-and-steady to a plan that, without too much risk, might garner a bit more that I could use while still here. She made suggestions, and we parted with her usual admonition to alert her first when I won the Powerball, and I promised, as always, to call her first—from my new digs on Bimini.
“No man is an island, entire of itself,” wrote John Donne in 1624, “every man is piece of the continent, a part of the main.” True, to a point. But for those who suffer loss of whatever degree—and I was not as close or as longtime a friend of Beverly’s as were many others—there exist offshore archipelagos of islands, whose inhabitants, while still in contact with the mainland, lead lives forever fractured.
The day of Beverly’s death, I happened to be reading Louise Penny’s mystery, A Trick of the Light. In it, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache must inform elderly parents of their only daughter’s murder. “’I have some very bad news.’ […] He looked them in the eyes as he spoke and saw their lives change. It would be forever dated from that moment. Before the news and after the news. Two completely different lives.”
Beverly Cory was kind, funny, quirky, ready with a radiant smile, and diligent; busy at her tasks that Saturday morning when some thin crack in the universe opened to let the darkness in. I have no homily or anodyne solution to offer. Do your best, love and honor your dear ones, but keep a bag packed, ready for sudden, unexpected removal to your private archipelago. It will be a long stay, and it won’t be Bimini.