Last Monday night, as we were all leaving work, K was making a funny face to us as she drove away.

The next morning, warm, sunny, I was driving in and had this flash, this image of K, lying on the floor, receiving chest compressions. I remember shaking it off in a ‘what am I thinking’ notion.

Arriving at work I started my day as normal, everyone arriving, the usual welcoming chatter, laughter filling the office. I realize K is missing as she’s usually early, where is she?

My phone rings and its one of my managers, her voice, usually upbeat, was soft, broken, as she said something strange. The lull in the moment between her last words and my realization became ever sharp, harrowing. Not much of the next minute or so am I able to recall.

“What happened?”

“Massive heart attack.”

Immediately the imagery I had earlier struck me, but now accompanied by a knifing to my chest, shoulders. As my senses returned, a distressing anguish came to me: I have to tell her co-workers, her friends, those who loved her (as they are one and the same), that K is gone and is not returning to join into their laughter, their loving, mutual appreciation society that I was immensely grateful to partake in.

Meanwhile the manager said she was sending two healers to help staff deal with this aching loss.

Everyone gathered and how they looked to me. Their kind, beaming faces questioning. That moment I didn’t want to beak their hearts, didn’t want to shatter their world, and didn’t want to release that cruel hammer of grief.

Before the last of my words finished reverberating, tears, like rivers, were flowing. A tsunami of shock, sorrow came at me. Nothing was left to give voice to and in silence we stepped into the shadowed dominion of mourning.

In the ensuing days, burning sage and sweetgrass filled the air, we had aboriginal healers in to help ease the pain individually and collectively. While arduous, it was liberating to sit in a circle, going around four times to speak of her smile, her laughter, her kindness, her teachings we will each hold close and what her loss will mean to us. We agreed with the Chief when he said, “We are family.”

Yesterday was her memorial, so many were there to celebrate a good, kind, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin.

We will miss you K.

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