Last week, on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014, my life and that of my 18 year old daughter, Victoria, were shattered beyond recognition. My lifemate, Laurie Ellen Wood Brandt, who had been married to me for just over 30 years, and who was the mother of my only child, was taken from us by a sudden and totally unexpected heart attack. She was only 62, and she had not been ill, nor had she a history of heart problems, other than high blood pressure. On the day she passed, she had complained only of minor aches and of having been sick to her stomach after lunch, and we thought she merely had a cold. I had spoken to her face to face at about five PM, just minutes before she passed, and she seemed fine - merely a little tired and run down, as one would expect from a minor cold. I went to another room in our home and thought all was well. By twenty minutes after five, when I heard our dog start barking and I went to investigate and found her, it was already too late. My own efforts with CPR and the efforts of the paramedics that arrived within 5 minutes could do nothing to save her. The autopsy indicated that her heart was so clogged with plaque that nothing would have been likely to save her. Yet we had never even suspected there was a problem with her heart - she had no symptoms at all, before the end.
My sister, Linda Brown, flew from Portland to Texas on Friday the 17th, to be with us for the weekend and give us her love and support. She was very helpful to us, and I thank her so much.
On the Saturday following Laurie's passing, the 18th, we held a wake for her, on very short notice, and directly invited about 14 local friends, asking them to pass the word to others in the local SCA and Pagan communities. Laurie didn't want a funeral. She wanted people to have a party and celebrate her life, not mourn her passing. Well... 24 people gathered that night to celebrate her life and exchange happy memories of how Laurie touched their lives. It was the most people who have ever been in our home at one time in the 20+ years that we have lived in Texas. Quite literally hundreds of other people have heard of our loss from where we or friends have posted on the Internet, and have contacted us with their condolences and offers of support and compassion. Some friends and coworkers even offered to come to our home from distant places, to help in any way they can.
Laurie is also survived by two older sisters, who live in Portland, Oregon. She will eventually be interred in Portland at Willamette National Cemetery, where my parents and grandparents are burred, in the niche that my own remains will go to when my life journey comes to an end - hopefully many years from now. We had plans of moving our family back to Portland Oregon this Summer or Fall, and Laurie was looking forward to returning there. My daughter and I will still move there, but Laurie will arrive sooner than we will. Victoria and I are still very much in shock at the loss, but we are determined to survive and to support each other. Laurie will always be remembered in our hearts, and in the hearts of many other friends and family members. May she rest in peace.