I did not know Sarah* really well except for occasions I could count in my ten fingers that we would meet up at our daughters’ school or when we invite each other for dinners at our respective homes. Her husband and mine are friends. The first time I met her, she was withdrawn, only spoke little that I thought this was someone who clearly didn’t like to be friends with me. Or with anyone. But then maybe, she was just shy.
She brought cakes she made at home – dainty cakes that tasted and looked perfect, like bought from a store. I always loved her cakes.
Pristine, who was an only child then adored their only daughter who was 4 years younger. She baby-ed her. Pristine played with their girl tirelessly, unending. Sarah’s daughter started to ask about Pristine so much that we would set play dates for the girls to meet. Sarah opened up little by little and we became friends, sharing stories about being a mom, living in Dubai, etc. She was asking about what it feels like having a second baby, a boy, referring to my Benjamin. I told her, boys are very sweet and I am addicted to my new little human more and more everyday.
She was thrilled and said she wanted to have another baby, and a boy too.
The last time we met up was Ramadan in 2013 (last year), right after my family came back from our vacation in Japan. Sarah was not looking good – frail, pale and exhausted. But she was eating in front of me like someone who has not eaten for days. She ate with gusto. Then she looked up and smiled. “I’m pregnant!”
I was so happy for her, for them! She finally got what she wanted and whispered, “I hope it’s a boy.” She smiled gain, eyes hopeful.
They repatriated to Japan a few weeks after our last meeting. Ah, the Dubai expat life…just when you get close to someone, they leave. It sucks but goodbyes are part and parcel of the transient expat life.
Months passed. I wondered if she has given birth in January when the New Year rolled in. I sent her a message. No reply. A couple more months. Nothing.
“Do you like the cake? I made them this morning!”
Sarah was beaming in my dreams last night and was happy more than ever. I told her I love the cake and the green tea flavor was my favorite.
She was alive.
In truth, my friend Sarah passed away exactly one month ago today. My husband got an email from Sarah’s husband last night telling us it’s been a month so he finally found the strength to tell their friends. And asked us to keep our beautiful memories of his wife.
Shocked is an understatement. She was only 33. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking: that she left too soon or that she left two small kids: a 6 year old daughter and a little baby boy only born last January.
Rest in peace, Sarah*. It is so hard for me to accept and understand but I pray you are in a better place.
* not her real name
Sarah’s husband did not disclose the cause of her death. In Japan, it mostly means the saddest cause. I don’t want to speculate but Sarah had no health problems as far as I know and post-partum depression comes to my mind and the sometimes solitary lives new moms face there. I hope I am wrong though I know it doesn’t make a difference. She’s gone. Forever.