In other posts, I've mentioned Millie. I met her the day I moved to Astoria, in August of 2002. She saw me as I unloaded boxes, bikes and two cats--Charlie I and Candice--into an apartment in the building next to her house. She decided that she liked me right then and there, or so it seemed. And, yes, I liked her immediately.
Well, over the years she's taken care of my cats whenever I've spent time away. Two years after we became neighbors, I took a trip to France and she cared for Charlie and Candice, probably even better than I did. Then, about two years after that, she took care of Candice when I went to Turkey. Charlie had died a couple of months before that and, after I returned from my trip, I adopted a cat she'd rescued--and named Charlie. A little more than a year after that, Candice died and another one of Millie's rescuees--Max--came into my life.
She's been as good a friend as I've ever had in my life. So was her husband, John.
Referring to him in the past tense feels even sadder to me than the reason why I did so: He died the other night, apparently, in his sleep. Given that a tumor was causing his brain to play cruel tricks on him, that was probably the most merciful way he could have been taken from this world.
Millie has said she was fortunate to have married such a good man. He could not have had a better companion in his life, especially in his last days. And his granddaughter has told me he is one of her role models, for his honesty and kindness. I can vouch for both qualities.
The next time I have dinner, spend a day or a holiday, or simply sit with Millie--alone, or with her daughters and grandchildren--I will be happy, as always, to see her. Still, things won't be the same without John.
All I can do now is to thank him one more time.