I just attended Nancy’s 70th birthday party. It was lovely. Over twenty of Nancy’s friends, a diverse group of women, represented by close friends, teaching colleagues, members of the book club, the quilt guild, the investment club (Wait… .what? There was an investment club?). There was wine and cheese and tears, because I am sorry to say, she was not there. Nancy had passed away 18 months before from cancer. Goddamn cancer. But it was time, it was her birthday. It was time because it was not so raw. Time to talk, talk in the larger group, finally, with distance, and with tears, we could talk about Nancy.
With glass in hand we toasted her. Then each of us spoke of how she had touched our lives. We went around the circle. Over twenty people spoke of her smile. Of her laugh. Of her touch, gentle on the top of your arm. Of her practicality, her humor, her wit, her patience, her spirit, her sun-love, her ability to make you feel like you were listened to, like you were singly important. How she gave confidence and love. That she said yes. Every. Single. Time. We spoke of Baileys, “The cheap stuff though,” Amaretto, “safety meetings,” making up words to songs and the ability to take a nap. I mean 20 seconds and she was out.
The other day I received a gift. It was a photo, emailed to me from a friend. It was taken a few years ago. It was Nancy and I. When I opened the file I just smiled. There she was, my old friend, and now today I am drinking a toast to her. Today was an amazing tribute to an amazing woman. No, she was not there, but her presence was felt, and I believe, every one of us is better because we were lucky enough to know her.