Celebrating a Life

Posted: September 22, 2016 by suegrain in Stuff

In January of this year, my best friend of 35 years passed beyond the veil. I wrote a little about it then, and some later in the month (a note titled Dreaming a Little Dream if any are interested in finding it on my FB timeline). Then, I went quiet on the subject as I processed the whole experience further.

I lovingly finished the cross-stitching on two baby quilts Bev had in the works before she died. I’m currently working on the third, and the work has allowed me to process a lot of my grief. Not all by any means, but enough that I could hold things together as we gathered the weekend of her birthday, this month. With a few exceptions, those gathered were part of that core group we formed a little more than 30 years ago. Some of us had remained in the area, with brief (in the grand scheme of things) forays out into the wider world outside Ventura, CA. 🙂  Others broke away more or less completely for a while and still others broke away, yet remained in frequent contact. It was good to spend time with everyone again, to reminisce and to catch up more fully.

One by one, a handful of us got up to speak, to give a eulogy and to honor the woman now gone from our lives, yet not our hearts. I didn’t think I would say anything. Theresa, Sascha, Joe and Moondance said basically everything that might need saying. I did speak, though and I know that, towards the end (if not all the way through), I made it more about me and what I was going through than I did about her.

I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t. How do you summarize 35 years of close friendship to someone that acted more like a sister to me than anything else? We fought, cried, laughed and loved for all that time. I just don’t have the words, even with a vocabulary as broad as mine is, I. Just. Didn’t. Have. The. Words. But I think I’ve found some in the time, since.

Several people spoke of her fighting spirit and she definitely had that. She fought you when you were the hardest on yourself. She fought FOR you when you needed it. And yes, she fought you tooth and nail when she thought she was right about something. If she was right, she tried not to gloat, not always successfully. 😉 If it turned out she was wrong, she accepted defeat like a warrior – which is to say not always gracefully, but she did accept it.

She fought herself, perfectionist that she was. She needed someone to fight for her against herself as much as she fought for those she cared about, too. Yes, she fought cancer and ultimately lost that battle, but she also won. Her struggles brought her family back together again. We’ll probably never drift so far away again, even if we only keep in touch digitally or by phone.

Why did she fight so much? The obvious reason is because she cared and wanted the best for those she loved. It lead to clashes, of course, but the core of why she did it was love. She wanted her chosen family to stay with her always and fought for that, too, even if we fought back and drifted away because our paths were not hers and vice versa. She understood that, but still fought to keep us close.

Like all of us, she was a complex person who was shaped by her experiences, good and bad. She had a difficult time forgiving a fault, yet when she did, she did it more or less completely. She had a musical, creative soul, yet a severely critical one for her own creations. She was loving and supportive and a fierce lioness when she had to be. We all knew her pretty well, because she was so open with all of us, once we became part of her family. Yet, we also had different relationships with her, too. Together, we bring those pieces into a cohesive whole.

To celebrate that tonight, I will open a bottle of her wine to celebrate my own 52nd birthday. I will raise a glass to my heart sister and soul twin, I will continue to mourn the loss of her physical presence in my life and I will, most importantly, celebrate that I had such a presence in my life for such a long (yet all too brief) time.

Continue your journey, my friend. I have no doubt we’ll meet up again somewhere down the line.


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