Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | January 29, 2010

One last call…

[Update: Gabe passed away this evening at 6pm, Central Time. Her friend, whom I had phoned earlier today, was kind enough to call me and give me the news directly.

Gabrielle Bouliane was 43 years old.

The post below was written and posted a few hours prior, just after I’d spoken with her friend, who was with her at hospice. Although Gabe was still alive at the time, I could tell from the tone of the conversation that things were not going well.]


A few days ago, I sent a message to my friend Gabe via her Facebook page. I told her about the post I’d written for her, and that I’d also included a link to her YouTube video of her final public performance. I haven’t heard back.

In fact, I’ve had no direct contact with her in quite a while (by direct I mean, any text or other message intended specifically for me). So, while I’ve been trying not to be a burden on the friends who are supporting her while she battles her illness, I finally decided to phone the woman who has been acting as Gabe’s intermediary with visitors — someone who’s been making sure people know when it’s safe to visit, and when it’s not, etc.

Gabe is on serious pain medications and is, well, not really up for much of anything right now. She hasn’t had any access to her computer in days. She can’t talk on the phone.

“Is that likely to change any time soon?” I asked.

“No,” said her friend. And with that word, and the tone of her voice, she told me everything.

Gabe’s not coming back.

Her friend said that she’ll give me a call if Gabe should return to being up for a phone call. I thanked her for all she’s doing for our friend.

Quite frankly, I don’t know if I could handle a call at this point without going to pieces myself, even if such a call were to happen — which her friend clearly doesn’t expect. But of course, if there’s an opportunity, I’ll take it.


When I was in my early-to-mid-twenties, my dearest cousin was killed in a car accident. He was twenty-one. It was between Christmas and New Year’s.

I have known all four of my grandparents, and all four are now gone. In one case, I got to say goodbye. In the other cases, I did not.

I’ve lost great aunts and great uncles and co-workers. A high school friend and a high school teacher. A college acquaintance who died here in Seattle, and I didn’t even know he was here until he was gone.

Gabe was an important part of my life, yes. But it’s not like we ever dated, or spent an amazing amount of time together. We were kindred spirits, sharing the journey here and there.

So why is this hitting me so damn hard?


The candle that I’ve kept lit for Gabe won’t light any more. It’s run out.

I’ll get another one later today. But I already know that one’s not for Gabe.

That one’s for her memory.

And for those of us who still have time.



  1. I’m so sorry. I’m thinking of her, and you.

  2. I’ve been fortunate enough to have never lost anyone that I was super close to. However, I remember a few times finding out that an acquaintance had passed away, and it would just hit me so hard.
    I don’t know why, but I guess it just seems that the loss of a life–any life–just always seems like a tragic loss.

  3. Because you’re vulnerable right now.

    BIG HUG.

  4. Death is a sad, sad thing, I hope she lived a good life.
    You’re in my thoughts and so is Gabe 🙂

  5. So sorry…

    But remember, as you stated earlier on my blog, the goodness. That part will *always* stay with you.


  6. So tragically sad. Cancer is viscious. I am so sorry to hear she has passed away, but as I’m sure you’re thinking the same, she’s in a much better place. In terms of loss – my worst, and closest, was my Nonna (grandmother in Italian), and I’ll never forget her, but she has a wise saying that I will carry with me forever: “era escrito cosi il libro del destino” which, in English, means, “look in the sky. whatever is written in the book of destiny, you can’t change.” – that gives me peace, and makes me know that whatever happens – even death, is destiny, and it gives me a sense of peace. Here’s the post I wrote on it, if you are interested:


    • Thank you, Jolene. And thanks for the link. I’ll be reading it.

  7. Thank you all for your kind words. I’ve updated this post with the news, but I’ll mention here too, for those of you who subscribe to posts/comments, that Gabrielle passed away this evening a little over an hour ago.

    As T says above, my friend will always be a part of me, and her death does not change that.

    But I’m still sad.

  8. I am sorry it is hitting you like this. I think that is normal when someone really touches us in some way.
    Grieve however you need to. It is ok.

  9. So sorry that Gabe is gone. We were just getting to know her.

    But you can take heart that many of us would never have known anything about her at all if you hadn’t introduced her to us. Therefore, you enhanced her legacy by making it better known. What more can a friend do for another?

  10. You are going through a grieving process with your marriage, mourning the loss of it. It makes sense that a more tangible loss would hit you hard at this time.

    Be kind to yourself right now.

  11. Sorry for your loss – I think it makes it harder when you can’t be with friends who also knew Gabe – that always seems to make it easier.

  12. On Death
    Kahlil Gibran
    You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

    In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
    And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
    Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
    Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
    And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

  13. ** No comment comment **

    **Honoring you and Gabe’s memory in silence**

  14. I’m so sorry. I feel honoured that you shared your friend’s life with us, though. Thank you for that.

    To paraphrase Shakespeare, I too have lost a brace of friends and kinsmen, and it never gets any easier. There’s no rules for how important someone has to be to make the grief proportionate. Sometimes, grief is a tribute as well as a loss.

    I’m thinking of you.

  15. I’m so sorry…

  16. We spoke.

    Hope you think I honored her with my post. She was an inspiration. I carry her message in my heart.

    Big warm hugs.

  17. I am so sorry for your loss. She will always be with you. I’ll be thinking of you and sending warm thoughts and hugs your way.

  18. I’m so very sorry for your loss. (((HUGS)))

  19. I’m so sorry for your loss INRIS. Like jolene I don’t know what it may mean but I do want you to know my blog has a candle on it that I put there for Gabe. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her, but you did and I do have the pleasure of knowing you.

    So the candle burns…for Gabe and for those I’ve loved and lost.

  20. I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend and kindred spirit.

  21. Just read this, and while I didn’t know Gabe at all… I still was moved to tears by her passing. I feel like I did know her in some strange way. I do know that she was an amazing woman… and the world is a better place because she was in it. People she knew, are better off for knowing her. Even some that she didn’t know. In the end, I supose that is the best we can hope for..

    “Each action and deed, a ripple effect, flowing generations and continents wide…”

  22. […] I watched their tiny chests being pumped up and down by ventilators I thought of Gabe.  Not realizing as I stood there she had already taken her last breath.  I thought of how life […]

  23. I’m so sorry for your loss. I didn’t see the update until just now. Thanks for sharing her story.

  24. I’m a little late on this one but I wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear this. She sounded like an amazing person who was really inspirational. My heart goes out to you.

  25. It only hurts in proportion to how much she mattered in your life.

    Sometimes people matter more than you originally thought.

    This Saturday is the one-year later of my mother’s passing. While it was a horrifying day, it was also one of the best. What a privilege to have people like that in your life.

    Soon enough, you’ll hug the pain and fondly call it Friend. Bring it on.

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