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Sisters of the Heart ~ Trudi

We met on a Tuesday at sunset. I was sitting on the back patio of the church, waiting for the women's support group to ... well, support. Trudi walked up and her gentle smile drew us together. We were two quiet souls, always early, seeking a friend.

From that moment on, she and I were sisters. We skipped together to recall our childhood, and shared many a cupa-cupa. Hot tea, that is, her favorite delicate herbal aroma and elixir of sharing confidences. We laughed. We struggled with the cares of the world. We sang and tinkled the piano keys. We explored the beach and forests and every park with a walking path. Vistas of the city, butterflies, ducks gliding across urban ponds. And art. Paintings, drawings, music, and sharing the joys and appreciation of our children and our husbands. We prayed together, sang together, laughed and cried together.

Sisters, there to support one another when we struggled. There to explore spiritual pathways. Just here, always ready to share a cupa-cupa. Her butcherblock table and mismatched cups. And precisely-fired, singing teakettle of boiling water. My wheels that took us on adventures, and two hearts that were always glad to beat in gentle harmony.

How do you say goodbye? How do you hold that love in your heart forever? Trudi stood for peace. I stood for action. We sat comfortably together in giggles and tears.

She made me question "the other side" of every encounter. Look at their side of it, she'd counter. But I got her Swiss goat – when she was lamenting that she wished she had their wit, I finally caught her off-guard and reminded her that "they" probably wished they had her kindness. She was speechless. And then we giggled.

She was my constant support as I wrote "Backyard Blessings" – little essays of nature, love and spiritual connections. For the past year and a half she has inspired me to write and draw about restoring our environment. She seldom read my website because she's not into business, but she is embedded in every article I write. You see, this gentle soul who never smoked, who ate healthy, home grown and home cooked meals, who religiously ate her granola. My friend got lung cancer. Then her husband developed leukemia. Then her cancer spread to her shoulder, her hip and her tailbone – her cocsic, as she curled the word with her quiet Swiss accent.

To see her in such pain makes my work very real and very necessary. It must be something in our urban environment. What cause could be at the heart of her pain? Was it the emissions from the hundreds of cars that stopped in front of her home every day as caring mothers delivered and picked up their children at school? Was it radon? Was it pesticides in all her fresh fruit? Was it living in LA's polluted air? Was it her travels on airlines to visit her family in Switzerland? Was it her gentleness that allowed the world to seep through her?

Trudi never knew, but she wondered plenty!

She lived her life with her family and her friends, and I was honored that she supported my creativity and urged me to draw more. She loved my drawings of trees. And I loved her oil paintings. And her tea! And her spirit. I promised her in our last week that I would return to my drawing – I've neglected it for too long.

Trudi's children included me in her last days and I held her hand and we shared movies and silly jokes and her poetic reports on her pains and her arsenal of medications. And we smiled wistfully, remembering and being together in the moment.

In her last lucid hours she raised our clasped hands and kissed my fingers with a gentle smile. That's the treasure I'll always remember. She had asked that I hold her hand at the end.

She slipped into a quiet state and as I came back on that last day I walked slowly up the steps and called, "It's Carolyn, may I come in?" and at that moment she drew her last breath. I believe Trudi knew I was there – in our hearts we knew. As her daugher said, "It's so weird that you would come at this moment." Yep. She shared a last smile with me...and was ready to go. That's my friend, my sister of the heart.

June 13, 1933 - September 22, 2008
Marie Gertrude Tunnick, wife, mother, sister, friend, adventurer, artist, peace demonstrator, volunteer, neighbor, Christian and a true child of God.

I write those dates and recall with tears that she celebrated my birthday just a week before she left. We had lunch together with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card. Eri, her beloved eldest daughter, Trudi and I at that butcherblock table showered with her gentle grace.