At this time of joy and festivity, my heart is filled with such sadness. I just learned of the death of someone I loved deeply and held in much esteem. I feel like I knew Merle Endo all of my life but we met only about fifteen or so years
ago because of forensic nursing as I met so many dear friends. Our encounters were infrequent - at conferences here and there, once for a day when my cruise ship was docked in Hilo, Hawaii and Merle spent a whole day with Sherry Arndt and myself, and, finally, a wonderful day when we were together in San Francisco for hours, playing tourist, taking dozens of photographs - not nearly enough of each other but, primarily of flowers and bugs, laughing and giggling about whether they could have "forensic value."
From our first meeting, Merle and I formed a close and loving bond. The internet was our form of communication, especially in later years, with retirement, as we both traveled hither and yon.
Merle touched the lives of so many people She was an emergency room nurse at the Hilo Medical Center, then worked for the sexual assault response team of the Hilo Police Department. She was one of the most caring and compassionate women I ever met. She had the utmost respect of our colleagues of the International Association of Forensic Nursing.
I was in India from May until October this year, in a household with very poor internet connectability. I managed only sporadic contact with this dynamic lady who constantly encouraged me to visit Hawaii, luring me with the promise of homemade lilikoi pie.
When I read condolences on Facebook several days ago, I
was in complete disbelief. I immediately went to Merle's FB page and scrolled down until I saw her last post to me, dated September 7:
Upping pain meds. Pain is unbearable, making me scream. Wish we had good permanent orthos on BI. To guard rt hip, now left is almost just as bad. Don't know how my friend Carmen dealt with all her bone problems and still traveled halfway around the world. Love you, Miss Carmen.
I love you, too, sweet angel of a friend. I hate that you were suffering such terrible pain since the summer. Your daughter tells me you were only diagnosed about three weeks ago and were to undergo chemo. I guess the Lord chose not to have you suffer any longer.
For me, you were the epitome of the aloha spirit. I will never forget you and I pray that your friends and family will have courage to get through the days ahead. I am so blessed to have known you.