Tomorrow I’ll drive down to your hometown to hug your family. We’ll cry at our loss of having you near. I can’t say I’ll be telling you good-bye then. I did that two weeks ago on the phone. My gut said this was it, my heart didn’t want to hear it. Still I can’t help but smile through the tears so glad I got to tell you one more time, how much I love you my dear friend.
When I remember you it’s through smiles. I remember working together and how you were great to show me the ropes at a new company. Then started our monthly Girls Night Out (GNO as they call them now) at the Mexican restaurant with Kathy. We made a trio. We took a whole table for the night but always tipped accordingly while we dished over margaritas, chips and salsa, and dinner. I always got the extra hot green salsa, remember?Fun times!
Honestly it helped me cope with working full-time, having a toddler that moved on to middle school by the time our monthly meetings chapter came to a close. Different jobs, different companies, different people came and went for the three of us during those days but we held on to our regular meetings. Maybe it was augmented by the tequila but I know it was the friendship that kept it going.
Like all things in life that phase reached its end. But the three of us had not reached an end to our friendship nor will we ever. Once all of us had settled out here in the Midwest we began something better than just GNOs. We started GWAs (Girls Weekend Away)!
Ahh, now the mention of Dubuque will always make me smile. It couldn’t be as frequent as monthly but twice a year was enough when we brought our own booze. Moved on from margaritas to gin & tonic. Mexican gave way to a bit of poker on a river boat. Dishing went from taking a table to meeting in Kathy’s room in our PJs with snacks. Friendship grew into loving the time spent with my two big sisters. I learned so much from you and Kathy. You’d both been there and could give advice. Heck when we hit a stumper at least we could commiserate and take my, your, or Kathy’s side.
Those days are some of my warmest memories. I even brought Aaron along (later doing the Mississippi River Museum with him stands as one of my best Mom & Me memories). We had craft fairs, poked about small boutique shops. Even had a causality in one that required a band-aid on Kathy. We gawked at the incline and swore none of us would ride it. Leave it to my son to take that as a personal challenge and ride by himself. There were carriage rides with Kathy’s sister when she came one weekend. Kathy and I even got you to get your ears pierced! Finally! It was time girlfriend! There were chili cook-offs one fall made for a great lunch in the park. Though we changed hotels, saw stores come and go, watched the Julian Inn be refurbished, heard as Kathy’s kids got married, Aaron grew up, and you got me interested in genealogy. Those things changed but our loving friendship only deepened.Then cancer came like a dark shadow into your life. Our meetings had to be more infrequent as you waged a defiant battle for more time to relish the days.
I remember our trip to the genealogy library in Fort Wayne – how we giggled at my rented Nissan Cube. It was a silly looking thing. How we got lost the first time going from the hotel to the library and toured the country side. Ahh but laughing as usual we found our way. I’ll always cherish that trip with you. That’s why I’ve made a donation to them in your memory. I’ll always think of you when I get a chance to do more research there. Oh and I’ll think of us giggling at the silly rental car too and smile.
It’s been a year, maybe two, since the three of us took our last trip to Dubuque. You were on oxygen. We met in your room because you got the free suite upgrade. Kathy had moved to Tennessee and flew into the tiny Dubuque airport. It was us again. I remember sitting on the patio of the hotel sipping tonic – my drinking days long behind me due to medication. We counted down to the supposed rapture that was happening that day at a particular time. I shared that I secretly hoped they’d fly nude into the air in front of us and we’d stay there munching popcorn, laughing, dishing dirt, and enjoying one another. They didn’t fly but that’s where I see us when I think about it – there laughing, looking for naked flying people, enjoying the comfort of years of friendship, having our own personal rapture in the sun. In my heart we stayed there, Sandy. That sunny happy afternoon will always be where I’ll meet us to stroll down memory lane.
Over the years all three of us enjoyed meeting in Dubuque during the transition seasons. In Spring Kathy and I would soak up the first warm rays of Summer. When it was Fall we’d lounge on hotel and restaurant patios enjoying the last of rays before the harsh winter. Now you my dear friend have led the way in making another transition, one where you no longer have pain or need that oxygen. One I’m glad you’ve made but I selfishly cry because the chapter of the three of us meeting in Dubuque has closed forever. Farewell my friend until we meet again…