Saturday, May 14, 2016

Missing My Friend


Today, especially, I am reminded of how fragile and unpredictable life is.

A friend from graduate school, a beautiful, kind, sweet, intelligent journalist, died a couple of nights ago. I saw a post from a classmate and then saw her husband shared the news from her FB page. She was unconscious since Tuesday after a completely unexpected braid bleed. He said she never awoke and died peacefully surrounded by family and friends. For that I'm thankful. I can't imagine what this is like for her husband and family. I'm so so sorry for their loss.

I'm also sorry for my loss. Donna was not someone I was especially close to during grad school. I got to know her better over the last decade when I chatted with her at the last two reunions in NYC. She was so down to earth and sweet. Just lovely.

She was especially kind to me in 2015 when we sat together at lunch and, as you do, we talked about our lives in recent years. I'd lost both of my parents, a young cousin, a beloved aunt, beloved pets, all within just a couple of years. I'd also had to file a lawsuit against a bullying neighbor who thought he could take advantage of me when I was down.

I was feeling pretty vulnerable but healing and moving forward. Donna listened. Really listened. And after the reunion she took the time to write me an incredibly kind and encouraging note. It was so uplifting yet validating of what I'd been through. She seemed to truly get where I was and what I needed to hear — not everyone does.

We stayed in touch. We got together when I was in LA last March. We had dinner with her husband Ben. I felt like Donna had a really nice time. She even suggested a couple more times we could get together before I left.

We just connected. We had things in common.

She talked of wanting to come to Detroit to visit in the near future and I said I'd be happy to show them around. I encouraged her to attend a conference in LA in August. We were hoping to get together again then. She offered to make time to grab a bite to eat or a drink near LAX right before my red eye flight. Just to get together once more. I was really touched by that and was so sorry I couldn't make it work.

But I was incredibly thankful for this lovely new friendship we seemed to be forging, as people do when they reconnect through the years, when common experiences bring new connections with old friends.

I feel such a loss.

Thank God she suffered no pain. I'm glad she was surrounded by those she loved. She seemed happy and content with her life. Why it happened? There are no answers and life is not fair.

And so I'm reminded how fragile life is, how unpredictable. So show those you love your love and tell them often.

(Image with group including Donna from 2015 reunion in front of Columbia University's J-school. Donna is the lovely brunette on the far right.)