Winter is my favourite time to be at 404 Houston. The house is heated with a wood stove that sits in pride of place in the kitchen. The most coveted seat is the rocking chair next to the fireplace, and I have spent my fair share of time sitting in it, enjoying the faint smell of wood smoke, the warmth of the fire, a cup of tea, and a nice long chat with my friend.
For 25 years I have been sharing my life's journey with my dear friend Barb. We have laughed together over what we would refer to as "comic relief," and we have cried together over the inevitable pain and disappointments that life throws one's way. We've shared hopes and dreams, fears and trauma. We were what L.M. Montgomery refers to in her Anne of Green Gables book as "kindred spirits."
The front door at 404 Houston has been opened to so many people over the years. It is a place others go for help, a listening ear, fellowship, celebration, or maybe, on a cold winter's day, just to warm up in front of the fire. It is a house filled with love and acceptance, and a faith that is steadfast. And now it is a house filled with sadness. My friend passed away last Friday. There will be no more visits while sitting in her warm, welcoming kitchen, no more phone calls sharing tidbits of our lives, no more laughing together over something funny, no more shared tears.
Barb leaves behind four children, a husband, four sisters, a mom, and the hundreds of people whose lives have been touched by her kindness and compassion over the years. It seems fitting that the most recent picture I have of Barb prior to her getting sick is this one taken a few years ago at our home in Kamloops.
|Left to right: Espoir, Barb, Clementine|
She had made the journey with a friend whose daughter was entered in a speech arts competition. About a decade earlier Barb had been instrumental in helping this family, refugees from Togo, immigrate to Canada. It was an immense job, and took a great deal of time, patience and paperwork. Barb stuck with it, and in the end this family found a new home and a new life in Canada. What's most remarkable about this is the fact that, in Barb's life, this wasn't all that remarkable. Her life was spent in the service of others. Loving, giving, caring...
It's been a rough week.