Treena Mielke

Treena Mielke

Family: We will miss our friend

Everyday the news headlines crackle with lightning storms of anger, worry and fear as we face this fourth horrendous wave of COVID-19.

It’s downright scary.

In our neighbourhood COVID-19 loomed very close to home and all of us were incredibly saddened by the sudden, untimely death of one of our own.

At the beginning of the summer, we were all hanging out on my back deck, sharing a beverage or two, laughing and chatting and just being neighbourly.

We do that a lot. The neighbours on my street are close, knit together by common threads of family and friendships and, actually, I guess just life, itself.

But suddenly our neighbour, the one who always had his garage door open ready for a chat, the one who had the most comfortable lawn chairs, the one who could come up with the best stories and concoct the best drinks ever became another statistic in the war against COVID.

We lost him on a brilliant fall day when the sun shone bright in a cloudless blue sky and the leaves were rich with the colours of crimson and gold and tangerine.

I was standing at the top of the stairs with my arms full of laundry when another neighbour came by to share the sad news.

And, suddenly, the day, indeed, our lives, were interrupted by a death we didn’t understand.

And suddenly everything stopped, and we stared at each other with grief-stricken eyes, and we asked ourselves why.

And, privately, inside ourselves, our thoughts crashed into each other as we struggled to come to grips with the inevitable.

Our friend was gone.

And I know, without a doubt, that when we sit around and chat about the price of rice in China or, in fact, talk of nothing of significance at all, we will remember him.

We will remember the inevitable cowboy hat he wore everywhere he went, his kind smile, his laughter and his endless supply of stories that sometimes went on until the wee hours of the morning.

Two weeks later, even as vaccine passports become mandatory in Alberta and Premier Jason Kenney issued dire warnings about the spread of COVID-19, we attended a joyous event.

A wedding.

It was an outside wedding, of course. A small, intimate wedding complete with all the perfect ingredients which when combined together definitely managed to bring, to those in attendance, a great deal of joy into what seemed like, for the time being anyway, a rather joyless world.

There was the bride, beautiful and radiant, wearing a simple white wedding dress, her mother’s pearls and a smile that put the sun to shame.

There was the groom, a dark-haired handsome young man. He was, it seemed, a man of few words.

I watched him from the sidelines, and I realized there was no need for words. His eyes said it all.

They were full of love for his bride, the beautiful young woman who stood beside him.

And so, even as the world faced another round of this terrible pandemic, in a cathedral of God’s own creation, with church pews created by the loving hands of the bride’s own father, two people stood together and solemnly promised to love and cherish each other as long as they both shall live.

And, in that moment, it seemed like hope and joy and love, and indeed, all things good and beautiful were alive and well.

And, in spite of the sadness and the loss that is very much a part of life for each and everyone of us, hope, for now and evermore does have a way of showing up, even when we least expect it.

And for that, I am most grateful.

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.