Tomorrow we are attending a wake. No, there is no booze, although Sally would have loved there to be champagne served. A funeral. No, she is already long buried. A memorial I supposes then. Yeah, memorial sounds like the right word.
And I’m not so sure I want to go.
Sally wasn’t family, but she treated me like a daughter during the 7 years I knew her. She was overbearing and way to opinionated at times, just like a mother, but I loved her. She was what I needed in my life when I moved 700 miles away from my own mother.
Sally was fascinating. A small town farm girl who received cows as gifts turned flight attendant, White House diarist, fundraiser and Archivist. Who would have thought?
Sally had impeccable style and grace. I think I knew something was wrong before she told me. Less than a year into our friendship she told me about her breast cancer diagnosis. I watched her go through chemo. I knew she was losing her hair. She wore her radiation pinpoint tattoos on her breast like a badge of honor. Something she didn’t want to forget about. Something she was going to beat.
And she did. A few times.
But I guess at some point the body just gives out.
Sally retired about two years ago. We traded emails every month or so during that time. July was the last time I heard from her. I think I knew something was wrong. I asked her, but she never responded. I wish I had kept those emails. Not that they would make one lick of difference, but just to read one more time.
So why don’t I want to go? The same reason why nobody wants to go to a loved one’s funeral. I want to remember her as she was.
She was a bright, bubbly adventurer. She was fierce when needed and kind all the rest. She would regale me with stories from her Nixon days, and every so often point out exits like a flight attendant. She beamed when she talked about Paris and Wein, Austria. She would light up when she talked about Richard, her husband. I think she did the same when she talked to me.
She was a good friend to me and I didn’t need to read an obituary to know any of these facts about her. I know many, many more. Goodbye Sally K., will forever stay in my heart.