My closest friend of 41 years died last week. Dr Marcia Landau was a brilliant psychologist, professor, writer and therapist. She offered me what I can only describe as, “extreme friendship.” Like a mother or a devoted sister, she was always available. She would do anything for me, even when it was not in her best interest. Like the time my closest male friend died suddenly and I learned about it at night when my husband and daughters were on a camping trip, unreachable. Of course I called Marcia and she drove across town to spend the night with me even though I protested because her poor eyesight prevented her from night driving.
Marcia dealt with chronic, life-threatening asthma her entire adult life, as well as several bouts of cancer and numerous surgeries. These were always forgotten in her enthusiasm for the next international trip, the next academic paper, the next psychoanalytic meeting, the next group supervision, or her deep compassion for a patient or a friend in need. Her relentless life energy brought her through so many physical crises, we thought she would never die. But of course she did- at 73.
Marcia embodied these words of George Bernard Shaw: “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”
Marcia’s body was “thoroughly used up” when she died, but her spirit was thoroughly alive because she loved so well.
I was wondering why I wasn’t feeling desperately sad after her services and I think I know the reason. Over all of these years of fearing her death, I was learning to internalize her love. I feel so filled with her love that now I feel her presence everywhere- from the white butterfly flitting around outside my office window and the breeze blowing around me, to the roses on my terrace, the goldfinches perched in the Crepe Myrtle tree at my dining room window, and the smell of honeysuckle that seems to follow me far beyond the driveway as I leave my house. My senses have been heightened, so that I feel lighter and happier than I have been in a very long time.
“A constant realization of the presence of Spirit will provide a sense of Divine Companionship that no other attitude could produce.”