Not too long ago an acquaintance of mine passed away suddenly. Well, for her it was not sudden, but she decided to not tell a lot of people that she was ill, so for those of us on the fringes of her world, it came from out of the blue. It came without warning, it came without preamble, it came without a fairy tale ending.
She was a big asset to every community she was a part of, work and personal. She was always happy and out going. A gracious and warm host who went out of her way to talk to everyone.
Her wife is just as personable and outgoing as she was. I remember the first dance I went to over a year ago. They introduced themselves and we talked for several minutes. I remember walking away wondering if I knew who they were.
They talked to me like I had known them for years.
At every dance, I would talk with them and each time I walked away with the feeling I had known them for a long time versus brief snippets of time. The last dance I went to was her last dance. I did not know at the time, neither did most people.
I remember talking to her wife for longer than I had in the past. We caught up as old friends do and I never saw any signs of worry or concern or tiredness. She was charming and warm and loving. And once again, I walked away as if I had caught up with a childhood friend.
I was away when word reached me of her sudden passing.
It would be two days later before the full impact of who she was would catch up to me via social media.
A big portion of my group of friends knew her, so my feed filled up with pictures and stories of her and her wife — her life.
The woman I barely knew, who treated me as a life long friend, was highly respected in my community, loved by everyone who knew her, had touched me.
I felt a loss from a woman not much older than me, dying too young, from my friends grieving through memories, from social media randomly popping up photo’s of an active, full, happy life.
I attended a memorial in her memory. Bands played, people laughed and danced. Her family and close friends spoke about her impact on them, and thanked a wide cast of their support system. I was surprised not only by the friends we had in common, but also by the sheer volume of people who came out to celebrate her life.
I overheard another friend say that now, for a brief moment before memories fade, they tell people they love them, that they hug a little longer, that they need to go make memories.
Time is never a given. Time is short. And while we all know it, it is not until someone who is unique and loving and alive disappears that we mere mortals step back and realize, we need to make memories now, we need to live now, we need to love now.
I may not have known her well, but I was touched by her through the friends we have in common, through the social media presenting her memories to me, her family to me, and through the universe bringing me into her world — her life — to show me to stop waiting and just live.