I lost a friend this past week, a friend who was also a mentor and role model. Although she was elderly, it was completely unexpected, and I'm feeling shocked. She was a long time member of my community, but I really only got to know her over the past few years. And although I wouldn’t necessarily describe our relationship as close, I believe it was a relationship built on mutual respect and common ground. When I reflect on her life and legacy, I am actually warmed by thoughts of how fulfilling her life was, or at least it appeared to be to me.
She was a tough as nails woman who knew what she wanted, and she accomplished everything I ever saw her set out to do. She built a strong family, worked hard and volunteered in the community. I’ll miss her spunky debate at meetings, her overbearing know-it-all attitude and her unapologetic confidence. She was a spitfire, a force to be reckoned with, yet also kindhearted and compassionate. I was so lucky to have gotten to know her. I will miss her dearly.
But the hardest part for me in her passing is something else. Something that’s quite hard to describe. In Darlene I’ve lost someone who I shared a deep connection with: we both lost our sons. Over the past year and a half when I entered a room with her in it we could make eye contact from across the room and there was an instant connection, an immediate recognition of a shared experience. We could validate each others grief with or without words. And I’m going to miss that a lot.
Fare thee well, my friend, and I love you.