Smoochy the cat was finally let back inside, a few days before Kristin died. The sofa had been placed outside, covered with a tarp on the back porch, to allow more room and comfort for her while Smoochy slept on her lap in the television room. The Chilmark Library was once filled with tambourines and the sound of Kristin Maloney’s voice as she sang to children on so many Saturdays. Sunday mornings meant blueberry pancakes in the Maloney house and walks on Lucy Vincent Beach.

For a time being, I imagine the library will be silent. Those footprints on the beach will be made by others and the cast iron pan meant for pancakes will be empty and cold. Kristin has left for another world, and now our world is not okay, but it will be eventually when the clouds evoke memories of her long, beautiful hair, and the rain reminds us of her melodic voice.

It rained last Thursday evening and Kristin took her last breath. Six months earlier she was given six months to live. It was too soon and her life was too short, just as every season comes and goes too quickly. The blossoms come in the spring and before we know it the leaves have fallen. Snow falls, drifts then melts. Fifty years ago, Kristin and her friend Clarissa boarded a train together, headed to Connecticut. And fifty years later there is no way to imagine Chilmark without Kristin.

She had two sons with her husband John, boys who blossomed into men. She was a mother to so many others, myself included. This responsibility was realized in everything she did as it came naturally, even easily, to her. Her commute to work was two and a half minutes long. The books on tape she passed the time with as she drove various Volvos to and from the library took months to finish — but the plot was never lost. She and John met at a nudist retreat to begin their story; they prepared dishes alongside each other in the commune’s kitchen, spurred by the fact that they were the only two wearing clothes.

This chapter in Kristin’s story will end with a red Volvo parked in their peastone driveway, as the oak leaves fall and the breeze grows gradually cooler. The story continues, as hard as that is to imagine right now. It will be told by Leona and Arlo, by Tristin and Adam and Lucille. The tambourines will be dusted off, and sometime soon I hope we can eat pancakes again. One chapter will close forever, though, as Kristin was the only member of the only one-person food cooperative that has ever existed. The weeds in her garden will also suffer — Kristin felt so badly about eradicating them that she was often known to transplant them to fend for themselves outside her fences.

As winter approaches, we are left to fend off the stiff wind and cold days without her gentle, loving guidance. But fend we will, using all she gave us. All that love is still here and will always be.

Chris Fischer lives in Chilmark.