Lynn Meerkreebs Simpson
If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I went to England in January when Lynn's husband Paul died. What I did not tell you is what happened to Lynn between my visit and her passing today. I hate to share bad or sad news, but some stories are just worth telling, if only to remind us about love and life.
Lynn was born and raised here in Washington, DC. We met when we were 14. "Fellow yellow gorillas" was the phrase we coined for ourselves in 1966 as junior volunteers in yellow striped pinafores at Suburban Hospital. She met her soul mate, Paul, a handsome British lad, one summer when they were both counselors at a summer camp up north. If you know Lynn, then you know how their romance survived the years and the distance until they were wed here in DC. And then he whisked her across the ocean to live a life in his hometown of Manchester, England.
Lynn, a Special Ed teacher, and Paul, a teacher rising to headmaster level, had a storybook romance of a life. They truly were each other's better half. Their love and family expanded when they adopted 2 beautiful children, Stephanie and Christopher. They loved to travel, taking several trips back home to the US and vacations in Spain, cruises and jaunts to sunny places to get away from the dampness and grey of England, particularly in recent years, to help with Lynn's asthma.
So after Paul died, knowing it was what Paul would have wanted, Lynn decided to take the vacation they had planned as an escape from cold, wet mid-February. It was bought and paid for after all. I was invited to accompany her but had to pass up 2 weeks in Fuerteventura, (one of the Canary Island's off the coast of Africa), because of my new granddaughter. Luckily, another friend from high school, Amy, was able to take the time to go with Lynn.
Lynn's asthma had been acting up and she had been under a lot of stress, natural for someone whose husband has died. What she did not know was that she had viral pneumonia. Two days after her arrival in Fuerteventura, Amy could not awaken her. When Amy called me from Lynn's cell phone on February 11th to tell me the news, I thought it was Lynn returning my call to tell her that my granddaughter Riley had been born. For the next several weeks she lay in ICU in a hospital in Fuerteventura, in an induced coma, on life support, so her body could fight the infection that threatened her life.
When she was well enough to be moved, she was air ambulance transported back to England for another several weeks in the local hospital. Lynn had just come home about 3 weeks ago. Her tracheostomy was healing, but she was still having a lot of trouble breathing and called me Saturday to tell me all was fine, but that she had to have her trach attended too since she was still wheezing. "All was fine." Lynn was ALWAYS optimistic. I have never heard a complaining or pessimistic word out of her mouth. Never. If she was in trouble, I doubt anyone would have known. But I also doubt she knew what was to come. I think her heart just gave out today, figuratively and literally. It's not that she didn't have the will to live, her children were her life. But I know there was a huge hole in her heart that Paul used to occupy.
I hope she was not aware, that it was instantaneous, that she was looking forward to the day that lay ahead, making plans with her children, dreaming of the likely marriage between her daughter Stephanie and her boyfriend Matt - someone both Lynn and Paul approved of highly. Making sure Chris was taking care of himself, eating enough and cutting back on the cigarettes. Or was she looking after Cora, her petite, sweet dog? I wish I could talk to her one last time. Visit again under better circumstances. Even while she was preparing for her husband's funeral she made sure to make my visit pleasant and memorable. I went there for her, to help and support her, but she wanted to show me a good time, and so off to Bronte country we went the day before I left. That was Lynn. Always thinking of everyone else, wanting their happiness, and recording those moments in photographs. I'm so thankful I snapped this one in the pub our last night together. I'll miss you Lynn.