Last night my friend, Barbara, passed away. I say “passed away,” not died, because it’s my personal belief that energy never really dies but instead changes forms. And hers is a big spirit, huge. Something so wild and beautiful and free doesn’t ever die. It just doesn’t.
I’d say Barbara was my best friend, but I’m not in the habit of ranking my relationships. Suffice it to say we were tight. She wasn’t only a girlfriend in the peer sense. She was–and is–a mentor, a soul mate, and yes, my very dear friend.
When I got The Call from her son, also my friend, it was creeping up on one AM. I was still up, though, if not wide awake then certainly wired, writing. Because the manuscript for my next book, UNTAMED, the finale to my Men of Roxbury House series is late. Not egregiously late or shockingly late, not the kind of writer’s blocked lateness that results in pushed up pub dates and editor frenzy, but a week late. And at the moment, I don’t really care.
I shut off the computer and met a small group of my friends at a local bar still open in our otherwise roll-up-the-sidewalks early-to-bed small town. We had a drink, a drink for Barbara, and then we went back to our friend Tim’s house and had another round in the timeless quiet of his 1800’s living room.
But mainly we talked. Barbara’s three adult children who have been her round-the-clock caretakers for the past three weeks shared something of what that had been like, including some of the moments of dark humor involved in physical dying. But mostly we celebrated life, Barbara’s life, and the profound ways she had touched us as parent, mentor, lover, and friend. In the course of the next two hours, her one musician son shared the song he’d written for her and then our musician friend, Tim sang the one he’d written, too. We cried some but we laughed even more as well as smiled at all the many memories. Above all we celebrated a life, Barbara’s life. A Life Well Lived.
Sitting there last night amongst dear friends, it struck me that it’s not the deadlines met or missed, the bestseller list rankings, the contest wins or losses, the sales numbers on our latest release or the sundry other successes and failures that define a life. All the must-do’s and should-haves that fill and sometimes clutter our days aren’t what we remember or even care about. In the so-called end, it’s how our lives touched others, how their lives touched ours, that matters–period.
Bon Voyage, Barbara. Congratulations on a Life Well Lived and deepest thanks for all you’ve done to teach me how to better live mine.