I have cried today until I cannot see. We were without Internet for two days due to some problem with one of our drives. Got it fixed this afternoon, started reading my usual email, blogs, newspapers and then about fell out of this chair. One of my few dear friends died Wednesday after suffering a massive stroke the previous Tuesday. Her husband didn't have our phone number and likely has been beside himself these last several days anyway.
Nancy was 68-years-old, a recovered alcoholic with the greatest wisdom I have ever encountered. She and her husband of 25 years raised two of her grandchildren when most others their ages were taking vacations, gambling at the casino or just enjoying a quiet house. She was well known for her bluntness, her kindness and her massive yard sales.
I recall years ago when a few people were gathered at a large table for pizza. Someone came in complaining about their kids, their husband, their job, etc. and just had herself worked into a tizzy. Nancy didn't say a word and soon the woman turned her attention to her. As if to say, "Did you not hear how horrible I feel today?" As the woman started to say something to her, Nancy said, "You can spit and sputter about it all you want. It doesn't change a damn thing. It didn't change anything last week, or last month or two months ago but you're still complaining."
It was as if the woman had cold water thrown on her face and suddenly woke up.
Nancy by no means had a glorious, accomplished past. On the contrary, having been an active alcoholic for years she could tell some real hum dingers about her escapades. But the neat thing about Nancy was she never let her past determine today's happiness or her future. When people gossiped about other's calamities, stupid stunts, strange behaviors, affairs, divorces, etc., Nancy simply said, "Aren't we all entertaining to someone, somewhere, sometime?"
She just had this look and this way of changing people's perspectives. And all she really did was sit there, look you straight in the face, and in an even voice say the most daring, truthful, insightful things about you or the situation. For the last couple days there have been a lot of Nancy stories going around and she's left a huge hole in the lives of those of us who loved her.
She had spent countless hours at the hospital these last couple years tending to her husband who endured three by passes, two heart attacks and two bouts with cancer. She worried constantly about his well being but it's her that has left.
I am stunned by her passing and angry - at myself - because she's been on my mind so much the last two weeks. Twice, we were within two blocks of her house and yet I didn't stop by or call. And later that day, I'd think about her again. God, I wish I had picked up the phone or stopped in to see her.
Never, ever, ignore those nudges.