For You, A

My friend died this morning.

She was a force.

I met her when she was pregnant with her second child, and I remember thinking she was one of the most beautiful people I had ever been around. Not only because she was physically lovely, but also because her humor, kindness, and grace were absolutely magnetic. Her big, expressive eyes always had a twinkle that made you wonder what she was going to say or do next.

One autumn evening, I hosted a Soup Social for a moms group we belonged to, and as I stood stirring soup at my stove, she told me she was going to join some of the other moms in a triathlon they had planned. They would run and bike our hills and swim in one of our many cold lakes. I told her I thought that was great. And then she proceeded to tell me about how she’d signed up for swimming lessons at a local pool. Wait. What?

”I can’t swim,” she said. “So I have to learn.”

I told you she was a force.

She learned to swim, and she did that whole leg of the tri on her back because sticking your face into a lake filled with milfoil is creepy enough when you CAN swim. One of our mutual friends still talks about swimming up beside her and checking to see how she was doing during that race. She was lifting one arm and then the other, breathing, kicking ass.

A force.

She was a world class cook and baker. She could whip up something amazing out of nothing. She baked me a cherry pie for my birthday one year that was off the charts, and she made my daughter a beautiful custom cake for her 12th birthday. Everything she created always seemed a little more delicious, a little more special – probably because of that twinkle in her eye.

She was an interior designer, and we had many laughs over the years about my quest for perfect ambient lighting. Her home was always comfortable, beautiful, and welcoming – usually with something delectable set out on her kitchen island to nourish her guests. The woman knew how to host! Whether it was a family barbecue, a kid play date, or a girls night, I knew it would be an amazing event if she was in the driver’s seat.

In my darkest time – the time when I wasn’t sure if I could bear the pain – she would lift me up. She would speak truth: “This is bullshit, and you don’t deserve it.” She would speak love: “You are strong. You will get through this.” She would speak humor: “Because he’s a DOUCHE. I already told you that!” But mostly, she would just listen and tell me she loved me. And she always, always made the time to listen even if she was listening to me say the same thing for the 9,756th time.

When the cancer diagnosis came 3 years ago, she had moved to the other side of the country with her family. Her attitude – still filled with humor – was that of a warrior. Every single time I talked to her, she would find the blessings in the bullshit. She would have something funny to say to lighten the mood because, God bless her, she was concerned about how I felt too. She would find a way to turn the conversation to what was going on with me to take the focus off herself even though we both knew that was what was most important at the moment.

The last time I saw her in person, we had a spa day together. After our massages, we sat in front of a fire in our robes and drank tea and cried and laughed and reminisced. She had slowed down a lot since I’d seen her last, and she was very deliberate in her movements. Her eyes still twinkled, and her wit was just as sharp. She spoke of her children and how they were growing, of the individual joys each of them brought to her heart. We went to lunch and drank green juice and ate organic everything and laughed and cried some more. We spoke only of her healing because she WAS healing. She was also a healer  – at least for me.

She was many things – daughter, wife, mother, baker, chef, designer, athlete. I got to call her “friend,” and I will be forever grateful for that. I will miss her twinkling eyes, her bright smile, her humorous musings, and her steadfast love.

My friend died this morning.

She was a force.

 

 

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