I lost a friend today. Actually, I lost her over a week ago; but due to the unfortunate situation of transatlantic mail, and never having had her phone number, I didn’t know it. I just received a card saying she couldn’t go on anymore, and thanking me for my friendship. After nearly a week of trying to locate someone else who had more ability to seek out contact of hers, or trying to get into touch with her or her family, and continuing to email repeatedly giving her my phone number, telling her I’m here for her….well, I find out she’s been gone all this time. Rather a double punch in the gut. From Mike Tyson.
Rosie was one of those little things in life who was also a big thing for me. We’ve been friends for some years, having shared interests and sensibilities, and maintaining that old-fashioned concept of “snail mail” (as well as e-mail and messaging; we aren’t that old!) Despite her ongoing struggles with painful thoughts, and the dark demons of depression, she was constantly showing an interest in the doings and well-being of her other friends. With all of her dignified fighting of depression and failed treatment thereof, she remained a beautiful soul, with an artistic vision, a very acute mind, and a wickedly sharp sense of humor.
Just a few weeks before her death, she sent me a beautiful card, filled with stunning photos of flowers in her garden, and a large packet of different flavored teas, for my birthday. I am drinking a wonderful decaf apricot tea from her right now, as I write this.
We shared so much, and I think our physical distance (she lived in beautiful England, I in the western U.S.) help our honesty, bluntness and sharing of vulnerable and sensitive things with each other. When I was annoyingly (for lack of a more appropriate word) released from my long-term, full-time job a few years ago, she sent me a beautiful flower arrangement, along with some wonderful candy (much enjoyed by myself, my brother-in-law, and the twins), just as a show of support. No matter what foibles in my life, what mundane things I was doing, what annoyances I was facing I told her about, her response was also enthusiastic, telling me how fabulous, wonderful and “brilliant” I was (“Brilliant” being one of her favorite words, and used in a very British way!) until I really started feeling better and stronger about myself again.
We shared pictures of our lives. Our homes, our countryside, her garden, my family. Anywhere I went on a mini-vacation, whether it was somewhere nearby like San Francisco, or our family vacation a few years ago in Hawaii, she received photos and post-cards. We emailed frequently, sent letters and cards frequently, sent gifts back and forth. I have a beautiful scarf I am using as a table cover, with pictures of the twins on it, that was a gift from her; a beautiful purse that I will be using for the next while to keep my friend close to me; numerous beautiful, stunning photos she took of flowers in her home garden. She sent candy and small gifts to the girls, and even included my sister on her gift list last Christmas. I sent her homemade apple butter and “biscuits” (cookies in my good old American terms!), and specialty treats from the area. I remember once her response when I had sent her jalapeno brittle from a local candy factory; “bloody hell, you Americans are insane!” before declaring it “completely tasty, if with a wicked kick”.
I called her “English Rose” and teased her about being Titanic-ish; she would respond by calling me “Cranky Yankee” and said that NO, her heart will not go on, and she would have shoved Jack off of that floating piece of wood if he had dared climb up on it (another moment that we shared that special bond!) When she said that she felt like she would be at home in my home because we had similar comfortable tastes, I said that I always imagined her very properly British, and having her in my home would be like being visited by the Queen, and I would be certain to say or do something completely vulgar and horribly inappropriate; her response to that was wickedly funny and totally vulgar, as were our continued messages to each other the next few days.
I introduced the concept of “fluffernutter” sandwiches to her, which she found both loathsome and intriguing; in her very “Rosie” way, she called them f*ckernutter sandwiches, and then went on in a very very long, detailed paragraph in this otherwise emotional email about how a deformed man may have sexual issues, and perhaps that is where the sandwich came from. I have no idea what that stream of thought was about, as I was reading it, laughing until I cried. That was so very much like her; when she is in the midst of a long depressive rant of an email, throwing something utterly silly and ludicrous in there, just to lighten the mood.
We talked about a lot. About dark, serious things, and about music, figure skating, entertainment, books. About the drudgeries of home remodeling and housework, about why she preferred flowers to most people and I prefer animals to most people. About big things like life, philosophy, politics, and about little things, like whether either of us would ever be featured on the show if our last name happened to be Kardashian. She told me about her mailman asking her out on a date when she was haggard and sick with the flu, and I talked to her about the epic adventures of Weezie the wonder-ferret.
In our friendship, we shared and discussed many “little things”; but the friendship was a big, huge thing, and one that helped me in a really rough time, when I was dealing with betrayal from a “friend” and an upheaval of my life. While so frequently thanking me for my friendship, and telling me that I can always make her laugh and thanking me for making her feel special….she was doing for the same for me. I am so grateful that I had told her that, and that I shared as much as I did with her. No matter what happens, no matter whether you lose your friendship or not, no matter how painful today is and the near future may be, it is never a bad thing to take a chance on such a wonderful person.
I am sitting here with “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” playing, one of my favorite ever movies, as I am drinking Rosie tea and writing about Rosie. The movie is a beautiful view of taking chances and following your dreams, becoming who you are meant to be. Along with some other friends, my incredible family, and a renewed understanding of happiness and gratitude, Rosie is someone who has helped me to become who I am now, as opposed to who I was even a few years ago.
Thank you my dear sweet friend. It is my hope that you are in peace, in light, and able to smile down gently on all who miss you. And thank you so much for the light that was YOU, that you shared. Just because you couldn’t find it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. I look forward to when we meet up again some day. I’ll bring a fluffernutter and some biscuits. You bring the tea. I love you my dear friend.