Minga’s Death: How Am I Doing?

Many of you have asked, very kindly, how I am doing with Minga’s death — anticipated, but not expected just when it happened, and especially after I’d just left Panama feeling encouraged about how well she was doing.

She and I had a long talk about death while I was there. She strongly hoped those of us left behind would not remain mourning and feeling sad, as her life had been rich and full and long. It’s true that for a woman of her era in the village, she lived a long time. Everyone else who was part of the co-op she and I formed during the Peace Corps years is long dead. I take her wishes as a guide, but feelings are feelings — and they come unbidden and uncontrolled, just as they are.

So, I feel quite sad, and expect to for some while — even as my life here unfolds in its interesting way, and even with the joy of Christmas upon us. I don’t feel overwhelmed with sadness, and am able to enjoy the good things that are happening. Pendulation, my friend Nicki calls it.

I do notice a curious lack of interest in working out, which surprises me because it almost never happens. I like my exercise routine, like the atmosphere of the gym, and feel better when I keep my regimen current. You might wonder why I don’t simply take a break and wait for the motivation to resume. The answer is that at my age, a break of even a week or so in exercise creates an uphill path to get back to the level I need to keep my blood pressure under control — even with meds. My zeal about exercise is a health thing, and an expression of valuing mobility, more than a vanity thing. I’m dealing with it by getting up and putting my workout clothes on, and going. My ingrained discipline, and the habit of exercise, take over from there.

I valued that Minga was perceptive in knowing that our relationship was a key element of my creating a psychological and spiritual safe space — something I wrote about last week. She would always look at me when I left and say “I will be here when you come back. You don’t have to worry.” About 18 months ago that shifted, when she needed me to take on a stronger mothering role toward her — something I was able to do, and happy to do. She stopped saying she would be there, and it was OK. I understood.

The architecture of my safe space has shifted, like a Jenga game. That’s an intellectualized way of saying that I miss my friend. I will miss her warm embrace, her soft skin, her stroking my arm as she sat next to me.

That, most simply said, is how I’m doing.

I actually started going back to Panama in 2008, but my pics on camera begin in 2009 when I got a smart phone. We had a fiesta with typical fokloric dress, and Minga insisted I wear a slip underneath, which was hot as Hades. The dress itself was scratchy and driving me nuts. Here is Minga adjusting my attire, because it had to be perfect.  I am hot, uncomfortable, and grinding my teeth. She is determined.  She won out, of course. I wore the slip, and stood still while she fixed my dress. 🙂

Such is the give and take of real friendship.

2 thoughts on “Minga’s Death: How Am I Doing?

  1. for Louise: Thank you. For a friendship to be real, there has to be give and take… reciprocity. As improbably as it was for two such different women, I had that with Minga. Thank you for seeing and affirming.

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