The last two in a half months have been super hard, I’m not going to even try and make it seem like it hasn’t been. I’ve been quiet. Quite on social media, quiet in my personal life, just quiet.
Some time ago, someone instilled in me that it is better to talk about something when it is a scab than when it is a wound; however, I do believe this will be a wound for some time and I think I’m ready to write about it, at least now, maybe not actually speak out loud about it. But I think sharing is part of the healing process.
Two months ago one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. This lady, if you know her, know she is a force of so much grace that the shock of the diagnosis was like – wait WHAT?, Naw, and in her words “I’ve got too much to learn still for this to be holding me down” “I’m going to beat this damn cancer”. “Let’s get to work, Penny”
My best friend, Paulette, was 76. She passed away on January 5th at her home surrounded by her family.
Paulette and I walked almost every day for the last year, 4 miles a day in our neighborhood. She was like a mom to me. She was a professional mentor, a business partner, a true friend. Someone I will never get over the loss of. Sure it may get easier on the daily, over time – but honestly, the loss … I’ve never in my life had anyone truly be that true of a friend, other than my brother Scott to me. It’s almost crazy to write that. It makes me instantly have to stop and wipe the tears.
Anyone who had the honor of knowing Paulette loved her. She was welcoming, loving, kind, funny, a teacher, honest, positive, steady, and an amazing listener. She also had great style. A mad-crazy-awesome cook. She wanted people to be confident in the kitchen. To have fun and to know that they can do it.
People share their Nonna’s recipes, like she did … I share hers. She was incredible.
Another dear friend, Maren Conrad shared with me once that you should always tell those that you love, that you love them. Say it out loud. Tell them. She is someone who experienced great loss at a very young age. I took that lesson that she taught me and always have instilled it. If I love you … you’ve heard me tell you. And you can thank Maren for that because I used to be a little afraid of telling people that I loved them for fear of loss – but Maren taught me that you want those you love to know you love them and tell them when you can. I told Paulette often and she told me too.
I think that in life you meet people for a reason. When I first met Paulette, I reached out to her because I loved food and I wanted to take food photos – that one phone call turned into a friendship of a lifetime.
I wanted to share the photo that goes with this post and the story with it. The hand in the photo is Paulette’s. I love bees – silly I know. Paulette’s mom liked ’em too. One morning when we were walking we saw this amazing magnolia bloom, we stopped, Paulette pulled it down for me to take a photo and we saw this beautiful buzzing bee. That day was a day we both said – wow, we are so fortunate to have this be our neighborhood, to have these wonderful days together and I drove home after our walk feeling so happy – so full of joy. That was one week before we had to stop walking.
I printed this photo and framed it – it is in my bedroom above the framed letter from my grandfather’s letter to me when he gave me my grandmother’s watch, which is a letter that is so very dear to my heart. I will also hang this photo in my office at Byers once I return to working at the office as a daily reminder to be thankful. This photo reminds me of the pure joy that friendship and the simple things can give us in life.
Please tell those that you love that you love them. Let them know what makes them special to you. I promise you will never regret it. Your heart will be full and should you lose them in death, you will know that they knew how you felt about them and how special they are to you.
Janice DeFelice says
My dear Pennster, I love you. A long time! I am so proud of you, your family and all of your accomplishments. You are a treasure and an icon of a woman. Sad times will come and sad times will go. It is how you are beloved by so many that counts. JDF
Dear sweet Penny, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. I hear and feel your sorrow and even though we can not see eachother right now in person, please feel my giant hug I’m sending you right now.
Noni, Cheryl Whiddon says
I learned to tell the people I love at an age in my adult life. My mother was a fantastic Christian, but very strict. We knew she loved us, but seemed to have a hard time saying it. I have made it a sincere practice to express my love to friends and family.