I tried really hard to get to the hospital in time.
This morning while taking care of Elora and Cami, Charlene's son Perry called saying his Mom was not doing very well. I felt such an urgency to go see her. After the girls left, I quickly left for the hospital, stopping at Den's office on the way to pick him up.
When I got to Den's office he was standing outside waiting for me which I thought was a bit unusual since I normally go in and talk to his secretaries a bit. He opened my car door and told me that Charlene had just died. I was feeling so disappointed I did not get to say goodbye. I am disappointed that I didn't get there just 30 minutes earlier.
Then Den said to me with tears in his eyes, "As sad as we are, I have to be excited for her. She's seeing her Dad for the first time." That just put everything into perspective for me. Charlene's Dad died over 88 years ago, before she was even born. He never got to meet his little girl in this life, and now they are together. She is also with her Mom again, and her husband, which I know she dearly loved.
I have to be happy for her, and I am. She is no longer trapped inside that frail little body of hers. She no longer has to use her walker, which she so much did not like.
We met Charlene Miller just 6 years ago when she came to live here from El Dorado Hills. She was a widow, and her son and his wife wanted her close by. She was easy to talk to and comfortable to be with.
Her grandson's wife is on the far left.
We were good friends. I would go with Dennis when he home taught her. Charlene also became my visiting teaching partner these past several months. I also loved that she would sit beside us each Sunday during Sacrament meeting.
When she broke her hip, and had to miss several weeks of church, I mostly kept her chair beside me empty. It just did not seem right that anyone else should sit in her chair. I cried the first Sunday she was able to come back and sit beside us again.
Charlene would often whisper in my ear during church. Things like, "I think we have such a wonderful bishop" Or "Pam and Carol came to see me this week and we had such a lovely visit" Or "We need to get our visiting teaching done this week. I don't want to put it off." Or "Why do they keep it so cold in here?"
She would notice if my eyes would wander around the chapel during a hymn, and point me back to where in the hymn I should be singing.
Just last month it was announced during Sacrament meeting that we were to sing verses 1-3, skip 4-5, and then go to verse 7. I thought to myself, 'Charlene is 88, how is she going to remember that?' She did! Not only that, but she looked at me to make sure I skipped over to verse 7 also.
Three weeks ago after we had gone visiting teaching one last time, she said she wanted to take me out to lunch. I can't even remember the reason I couldn't that day, but I had to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I do have time to go through a drive through if you want." So we went to Foster Freeze...a place I had not been to since my boys were little. She ordered a hamburger, I order a dry fish sandwich, and she insisted on paying for them both.
When I took her home that day she insisted on just having me drop her off in front of her house. She said she needed to get her mail. I said I would get her mail for her. She insisted I go home and she would get it herself. That was Charlene. What if she fell and no one was around to help her? So I ever so slowly drove around her gated community ending with coasting by her house to make sure she was inside before I left.
Last week I called her to see how she was doing and she said she was just really tired and had been diagnosed with a bladder infection. She also said she was gurgling in her sleep and her doctor had said she had water around her heart. This sounded like how my mom was shortly before she died so I was very concerned we were losing her.
Saturday her daughter in law called to tell us Charlene was in the hospital with pneumonia. I wanted so badly to go see her but I just couldn't because of other circumstances. Just yesterday Dennis left work to see her. He said she was very coherent but kept dozing off during their conversation. She said she thought she would go home tomorrow. She told him to give her love to me. I think now, that was my goodbye.
I will miss you Charlene. I don't even want to go to church this Sunday and sit there without you. But I am so happy for you. And I will come looking for you someday.