Five days later, Eva slipped quietly into eternity. She had died of “natural causes,” Nurse Char told Sadie, whispering this bit of knowledge as if she’d revealed some top-secret information that would certainly lead to a law suit by Eva’s family if they found out that Char had spilled the beans. As if Eva’s four daughters, now residing in upscale towns in Washington and Vermont and upstate New York, would give a second thought to anything connected with their mother.
Eva had, in fact, died just as she had lived since the year she turned fifty: alone. That’s when her girls had left home, she had told Sadie, all within one calendar year, heading off to the coasts to find husbands for themselves and raise children of their own. It was the same year that Eva’s husband, a venerated English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, had left her for a pretty young student whose passion for nineteenth century British literature matched his own.
Eva had been awarded their house in the subsequent divorce—a big old stucco bungalow just north of the university, she’d told Sadie. It had lots of crown molding and built-ins and plenty of charm. But apparently that charm was lost on her girls, because they’d rarely visited even before being tied down by their families. So Eva had given herself wholeheartedly to volunteering at and through her church, zeroing in on hospice work early on in a show of solidarity with others whose lives were also ending. It was, in fact, a fellow hospice volunteer who had helped her find and settle into The Hickories once not even a walker could see her safely about the house.
Sadie spent much of the day following Eva’s death recalling the conversations they had had about this life, with all its joys and sorrows and disappointments. Somehow sharing those things—especially the disappointments—made everything feel all right again. That was just life, they had agreed time and time again, and a good thing because they were citizens of a better country, an eternal home, and if things had been wonderful on earth they might have resisted going there.
“Friends will be there I have loved long ago,” Sadie warbled. “Joy like a river around me will flow!”
As long as she was able to focus on these things, she felt strangely peaceful about this loss. Oh, of course she’d miss Eva. Beulah and Eva would probably prove to be her last real friends on this earth. It was just too difficult to find true soulmates in a nursing home, where so many residents were slipping into either dementia or complete self-centeredness, with every personality flaw magnified many times over.
“Just to be there and to look on His face,” she sang out with gusto, “will through the ages be glory for me!”
Knowing that Eva would never suffer again was such a comfort. And Sadie no longer had to worry about being the one to go off into paradise first, leaving poor Eva abandoned once again.
All in all, it should have been a satisfying resolution to her friend’s life story, with Sadie simply feeling honored to have spent its finale with her.
--From The Song of Sadie Sparrow, pages 293-294