Goodbye, Montreal Grandma, Rhonda Massad, Maria Pappas

Saying goodbye is never easy……

It is true what the songs say, that saying goodbye is never easy. About 24 years ago I said goodbye to a friend, Maria. It wasn’t easy, partly because it was violently unexpected and partly because we were both 24 years old. People are not supposed to die at 24 years old.

It was January. We had planned a hot date night with our respective mates. I had a babysitter for my first born and was seven months pregnant. We were very sure of ourselves, and we knew what we wanted. We were both born under the sign of Leo and we fancied ourselves as “being all that and a bag of chips”. At least we thought so.

Maria and Richard never made it to that dinner. Dan and I were running a little behind and were home to receive the phone call from the hospital saying Maria would not be joining us for dinner. I remember the nurse’s voice on the phone. She just said, “your friend is at the hospital, and maybe you should come.”

She landed at the Lakeshore General Hospital, but she had left this world at the scene of the accident between their car and a flatbed truck on that cold, slippery evening. Their car hit the back of the flatbed due to a patch of ice on Highway 40. Richard was fine but at the hospital in Lachine. Maria was not.

The human body sets up a shock system to lessen the blow of news that makes us unable to cope. I barely understood what was being said to me by the family when I waltzed into the hospital still thinking I was heading for dinner at Milo’s on Park Ave. It was simply a matter of scooping up my buddy and getting things back on track. We had a dinner to get to……

Not so. That was the night I said goodbye to what today would be called my BFF. Today is her birthday, so I think of her and wonder what would have been. Would we have drifted apart in time or made the long haul?  Would we have attended all the weddings and baptisms? Would we have laughed and cried a million more times? I think so. Anyone who knew us together already understood giggling was part of the package. We giggled at everything.

Saying goodbye was really hard for me. She was the one I would have leaned on in a situation like this. She was the one who I wanted to help me through this, but she was gone. How was I supposed to manage?

It took a full year for me to adjust and be able to speak about her without crying. I still miss her and still cry for her but more so on special occasions, like her birthday and New Year’s Eve. I seem to have held placeholders in her honor without actually planning it. I hate New Year’s, I never did, but since she died I save that day to be miserable and say goodbye all over again. The odd time I have made an effort to join the festivities but my heart is just not in it. That was our day. I want to keep it that way.

Though we will not have the pleasure of sharing life’s events, I see her face in her nieces and nephews and hear her voice when I visit with her sisters.  I somehow know I will see her again on the other side. She will be waiting for me. I choose to believe that,  it comforts me to think I have not said goodbye but À Dieu. So maybe a good way to look at goodbye is “someday”. Not today but I will see you someday.

We will giggle together agGoodbye, Montreal Grandma, Rhonda Massad, Maria Pappasain someday.






  • Patricia Empsall
    Posted at 22:15h, 09 August Reply

    Rhonda, reading this article has me in tears because I can feel your pain. Continue to stay strong.

    • rmassad
      Posted at 11:52h, 10 August Reply

      Thanks Pat.

  • Kimberley
    Posted at 23:15h, 09 August Reply

    I saw this and something inside me persuaded me to read this article.

    I understand fully what you spoke about in your words. I lost my best friend, just 23, almost 2 months ago in a motorcycle accident and it seems incredibly unfair to lose the people who seemingly are completely at their will to achieve whatever they want in life.

    Him, my boyfriend, and myself were always referred to as the 3 musketeers because we were inseparable to most people. We planned a future together that was full of traveling, self discovery, and goals. We all lived together in our apartment, his lack of presence is noticeable each day.

    I believe it will always ache, but I hope in time that the saying of time heals will eventually bring solace and peace.

    • rmassad
      Posted at 11:52h, 10 August Reply

      Thank you for your kind words. The ache lessens and time does make it manageable. You will be able to choose to visit those feelings when it is appropriate for you instead of the startling breathtaking way it feels today. I wish you peace and love. Rhonda

  • Andrew De Four
    Posted at 01:38h, 10 August Reply

    Part of your friend lives in you. Every good and meaningful relationship is imprinted on and in us. So she still lives in you and all who knew her well.

    • rmassad
      Posted at 11:53h, 10 August Reply

      Thank you for the kind words.

  • Celena
    Posted at 10:39h, 10 August Reply

    I am so sorry to hear of it! Sending you big internet hugs!

    • rmassad
      Posted at 11:50h, 10 August Reply

      Thanks so much

  • Lilianne Popescu
    Posted at 16:26h, 10 August Reply

    I remember it like it was yesterday. She looked like an angel, I seriously thought she would just get up….she was far too pretty to be gone…….. It left so many of us with so many questions….that have remained unanswered,,,,

  • Christina Ayoub Miller
    Posted at 20:11h, 10 August Reply

    Beautifully said. I remember your beautiful friendship and those giggles. Maria was beautiful inside and out. I agree Witt you that her spirit lives on in her family, as I have been a small witness to it recently. May she rest in peace and keep smiling from a place beyond. Xoxox

  • Nicole Devito
    Posted at 22:56h, 10 August Reply

    Hi…im Nicole Richard s sister

  • Nicole Devito
    Posted at 23:01h, 10 August Reply

    I would lové to hear from u

  • Nicole Devito
    Posted at 23:08h, 10 August Reply

    I loved her like m’y sister…confident…and friend….i miss her…xx..

  • John Papas
    Posted at 18:09h, 11 August Reply

    Dear Rhonda, I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sure even a quarter century cannot lessen the pain from such a tragic event. Your friend Maria and I shared the same last name(different spelling) and I can tell you without a doubt, when people asked if we were related, I only saw joy in their expression, I have never met her personally but Maria was a exceptional person, I could just tell by everyone else who knew her around me. My heart skipped when I heard of her tragic passing way back when, just like it skipped a beat right now reading your touching tribute to her. Peace

    • rmassad
      Posted at 17:26h, 12 August Reply

      Thank you for reading John. I was hoping to remind those who knew her of her of how special she was.

  • Lori Massad
    Posted at 12:55h, 18 January Reply

    Rhonda what beautiful heart felt words. Yes you shall giggle again someday.

  • Vasilios Karidogiannis
    Posted at 19:24h, 18 January Reply

    Hugs to you. I see the families posts in the gazette every year. Feels like someone I know,

  • Maria Pappas
    Posted at 17:18h, 02 March Reply

    Hi Rhonda,
    I am truly sorry for your tragic loss. It is very clear you loved her with all your being. You weren’t only lucky to have her in your life but she too was lucky to have you even for a short time. My cousin John and best friend died when we were both twenty three believe me I understand how you feel. Not a day goes by that i do not feel pain and how much he is missed. I am now 56 and will always feel that part of me left with him but at the same time like you I find comfort and hope to meet him one day again too. I named my son after him and he has his character and laughter so every day I feel close to him. I stumbled on your story looking through the internet and found the name Maria Pappas and clicked on it thinking why is my name posted. I saw your beautiful picture with her and continued to read your story. It touched my soul. She was a beautiful young lady but I suppose God probably need an angel. Many years ago friends and family called because they had heard a young girl died named Maria Pappas exactly like my name and similar description i guess they were relieved when I answered the phone. Believe it or not I really felt sorrow for some reason even though I did not know her. after so many years I stumbled on your story through our same names and felt your loss and pain. Don’t ask why I am writing but in some strange way I feel I met her somewhere and I cannot remember where. You loved her enough to keep her memory alive. I hope we all meet with the ones we love some day. And if there is paradise I am sure she is missing you. Enjoy every moment of life and keep well. You sound like a very special lady.
    Best wishes to you ,
    Maria Pappas

    • rmassad
      Posted at 17:27h, 02 March Reply

      Wow – I am so touched that you reached out to me. Thank you. It means a lot. It is strange how we cyber-meet under these circumstances. Her sisters will be touched to read this also. I firmly believe there is a paradise and maybe I will have two Maria’s to celebrate with. XOXO

  • Stéphane Ledoux
    Posted at 21:50h, 16 June Reply

    Hi Rhonda, I used to live in Kirkland, near Ecclestone park, we were neighbours. I went to high school with Maria and we hung-out together for a few years. She was our little bundle of fun. Although our paths had gone in different directions, I often think about her, especially when I hear those songs she used to listen to (John Cougar – Hurts so Good, Frank Zappa – Dancing Fool…).
    I keep only good memories of Maria. Time doesn’t heal bit makes us more aware that life is fragile and we should never take anything or anyone for granted.

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