Amazing Grace

I think it was her laugh. That mirthful, contagious laughter that I miss most. Just over a year ago, life became a shade grayer when I learned the news that my beautiful friend Grace, departed this world unexpectedly, so unexpectedly, at 49 years of age.  Move on, they say. Life goes on. She is gone. Take comfort in the memories.  All logical, all understandable. But what they don’t tell you is how do you find another best friend with whom you click so perfectly?  A friendship that does not even come for some, once in a lifetime?  Yes. I have moved on but I can’t forget her.

Grace glamming it up in the 1980'sShe first entered my world 10 years ago, when our children attended a three’s group at nursery school. And then as the years rolled on, we found ourselves again entwined when both our children, now in their teens, joined a springboard diving team in a neighboring town.  And our friendship which began slowly, progressed from the occasional wave in the market to daily phone calls, often exceeding an hour in length. In an age of computers and texting I loved those phone calls. We delighted in discovering commonalities from our youth; how we both loved teen idol Scott Baio or debating the merits of which was the better beach; The Jersey Shore (her choice being a Jersey girl) vs Jones Beach (mine, growing up on Long Island). I would cradle the phone under my chin as I made the beds, never wanting to hang up as there was always just one more story.

Her tough façade shielded a gentle heart. She once trapped a possum that was ravaging her vegetable garden, in a cage she had purchased at Home Depot.  That was so Grace. Why call a professional when she could do it herself? The next morning as she crept up to check the cage, she was devastated to discover that in trapping the creature, it had perished.  As she dejectedly opened the trap door, the possum sprang out…She laughed and laughed as she told me she had forgotten that possums played dead…

Grace was steadfast and unwavering in her beliefs; a formidable participant in any discussion.  A topic that came up frequently between us was the amount of driving time needed to arrive at a certain locale. We often carpooled together to diving and Grace claimed it took her no more than 20 minutes from her home to the YMCA, wherein I would argue that was impossible, as our house was closer and she could not get to the Y in less than 25 minutes.  There were never any loud arguments just a persistent impasse. “Perhaps you drive faster than me?” I would remark.  And she would confidently smile and say, “No, 20 minutes door to door…” and so it went for years with no declared winner, just a constant volley between us.  It always took 5 minutes less when Grace drove anywhere.

Her two favorite words were “divine” and “fantastic” which she used with abandon. You felt like there was nothing she could not accomplish. She was the definition of a do-er.  She was loyal, funny and protective. She loved Hugh Grant movies and the city of London where she had lived in her single years.

Above all, Grace loved her family. Her husband Craig and two daughters were the light and purpose of her life. She was the best mother imaginable and her spirit is seen in the unique and beautiful personalities of her daughters Maren and Devon.

photo (1)Although I will not see my cherished friend again in this world, I keep close to me the memories of her voice, mannerisms and of course that laughter.  If I am to take anything away from this tremendous loss it is that age-old advice that life is fleeting.  I am not one for hugging but what I would give to hug her one last time and tell her how happy she made my life during our short time together.

And, during those times when I don’t feel her near, I ponder where her spirit may be and then a vision comes to me which goes something like this…

A calm, deep, soothing voice is heard:  “Grace, it is time to leave to greet our new friends.  It will take you 15 minutes to reach the gate and if the clouds are thick, it may take some extra time….” A steady, confident voice replies “It takes only 10 minutes. I have been there twice now and there is no way it takes more than 10 minutes.”  God, begins to object but then reconsiders. She has not been here very long, but he already is aware of her capabilities. That is one of the reasons he chose her for this job.  He responds calmly “Very Good Grace.”  I trust your judgment.  We all did.

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31 thoughts on “Amazing Grace

  1. Wonderful tribute to your friend Grace. My daughter posted on FB today that one of her dear colleagues departed this world unexpectedly this past weekend. Her comment was “I really hate that death is a part of life.”
    Without ‘evil’, there would be no ‘good’; without ‘death’, there would be no ‘life’. Everything would just be.
    Next time you see Grace, you can tell her how long it took you, and you can tell here about how her life impacted others after she departed.
    My your heart be at peace.

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  2. That is a beautiful sentiment Jerry. I plan to say just that to Grace. On her birthday I posted a quote on her FB Page that I found comforting. Thank you for reading my tribute.

    “She is not lost, our dearest love,
    Nor has she travelled far,
    Just stepped inside home’s loveliest room
    And left the door ajar..”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. now i know why you liked my piece … ”where i’ll sleep” … it’s fortuitous that the two of you … you and ”where i’ll sleep”, came together at this time and i’m tickled this happened … . it’s one of my favorite pieces and i’m so glad i got to share it with you … ks

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  4. Kathy, what a lovely tribute to your friend, Grace. You were both so blessed to experience this beautiful friendship. I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Grace, thank you for reading! I will let you in on a little secret…I first clicked on your blog based solely on the fact that you were her name sake! It was serendipitous as I found your beautiful photos and wonderful posts. Love your little dog – I had a Yorkie as a young girl that I adored !

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      1. Kathy, I am so glad that you have found my posts to be enjoyable to read! Was your Yorkie as high energy as ours? He turned 8 yesterday and shows no signs of slowing down!. xo

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  5. Yes, “Rascal” was indeed one! He lived to the ripe old age of twelve and was spry upon until then. My father was an absolute dog lover and we had so many breeds growing up, both great and small; Gentle Bubbles the Beagle who I will love forever, Rascal our Yorki, Brandy our beautiful German Shepard pup who was tragically hit by a car before one year of age, two great danes (loveable but don’t live long due to size) and our charming and gentle giant of an Irish Wolfhound “Connell” who we brought home as a pup from Ireland. And Daisy our white toy poodle who sat on the top of my father’s armchair. We now have an absolutely fantastic breed called a Toy Fox Terrier. Smart, affectionate, funny and unique. My husband is absolutely fanatic over “Anabel.” You can see a pic of her on my blog under one of the photo challenges entitled “warmth.” Have a great day.

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  6. This was beautifully written.
    Very sorry for the loss of your friend.
    Bracing myself for losing someone close, – it’s bound to happen more and more as the decades go on…

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful words of comfort Kathryn (great name!). I am Katherine but go by variety of nicknames: Kathy, Kate, Kit, Kitty. Funny how different people in my life favor different variations of my name (hmm, maybe there is a story in that 🙂 Yes, I still have Grace with me all the time and can hear that wonderful laugh when something happens I know she would enjoy. She had a wonderful sense of humor. I appreciate you reading my story and will be sure to visit your blog!

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  7. That is a lovely tribute. I think friendship is somewhat devalued by our modern society, which focusses so much on romantic relationships and on being self-sufficient. Friends can be the best part of ourselves. Perhaps Grace knows how much you miss her, although she has gone on.

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    1. Thank you for the heart felt sentiment. I know Grace knew how much I loved her when she was alive as I often told her how much I enjoyed to be around her (we laughed a lot!). I feel at peace and extremely fortunate for our friendship, although short. Thank you so much for reading!

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  8. Lovely tribute to your friend! So sorry for your loss! Losing a loved one is soooo hard!! I told my husband the other day that the part I hate about growing old the most is that instead of going to weddings and baby showers, we will be going to funerals. Its inescapable. BUT all the more reason to live each day to the fullest and it sounds like you did with Grace! May the memories keep bringing you laughter. Loved how you ended your post with her conversation with God 🙂 Blessings to you!

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  9. Thank you so kindly for reading my tribute. Though I have not yet replaced Grace, I am fortunate to have my sisters who all live close in proximity. They are my best friends and help fill in the void💛

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  10. Thanks for your comment on my blog, Kathy. I have read your touching story. You’ve done just what I recommend in my book about grief. You’ve taken your sadness and used it to create a fitting tribute for your friend. It was lovely. I’m so glad you pointed me towards it. I especially loved your ending!! So appropriate. Grace would laugh, I’m sure.

    I’m curious about what the photograph is. It looks like a headstone in the shape of the end of a tube of skin cream. Am I seeing this wrong? Judy

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    1. Hi Judy, hope you will bear with my as this is the answer to your question, long but worth it. I wrote a eulogy for Grace’s funeral entitled “Amazing Grace” which my husband read in church and which was almost exactly the same as my wordpress story. About a week after the funeral, I was in TJ Maxx (a store I am not sure you are familiar with but there are several of them in my state that sell clothes/shoes/home goods/cosmetics/frangrances. As I wandered the store aimlessly that day, I suddenly looked down on on a display table to see a tube of scented body cream entitled “Amazing Grace.” I felt as if this were a sign from her because (try to follow this as explanation is a little difficult) there is another store called Marshall’s in our same town which is an exact replica of TJ Maxx just a different name but same owners. Grace and I would often laugh about going into one store to return something and then finding it was actually the other store that we had purchased item from ie trying to return a bag to TJ Maxx which you had actually purchased in Marshalls. Strange but true. The stores are in a 2 mile radius of one another both in strip malls with virtually same merchandise. Soooo I snapped photo of the Amazing Grace body cream to include in my story because it was so ironic. But it was the wording on the front of the tube that caused me to lose my breathe. It said something like “it all comes down to one word “Grace.” How you take the winning with the losing, the good with the bad.” That line just struck me as it was so perfect given my tremendous loss. Thank you so much for reading and I plan to go back to spend some more time reviewing your wonderful blog. Happy Holiday weekend! 🙂

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      1. Hi Kathy…In my book “Lessons from a Grief Diary” I have written several stories about similar synchronicities that occurred after my husband’s death and for years afterwards…even up to the past year, 14 years later. I absolutely believe that these coincidences are not coincidences. Your story is wonderful and if I hadn’t already spent 11 years with the theme, I would do an anothology called “Life after Death” about such happenings in the lives of those surviving the deaths of loved ones. Now, as to Marshalls and T.J. Maxx–they are two of my compulsions, along with Ross Dress for Less and Walgreen’s. I always hit these stores multiple times when I come back to the states once a year. I believe T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are actually owned by the same parent company, so no wonder you confuse them. I have been shopping in Marshalls since 1981 and I no longer shop in any full-price stores. They are no fun at all. Thanks for telling me the postscript to your story. I can’t stand not knowing the whole tale!!! Judy

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    1. I am honored by your heart felt comment Mister Maxx. I loved my friend and miss her with an aching but take peace in my wonderful memories of our friendship. Thank you for reading my story!!!

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  11. Such a nice tribute to your friend. I could relate to your building of an adult female friendship – so important yet so elusive sometimes, so losing it can feel even tougher. How wonderful to channel your feelings of sadness into this beautiful reminiscence.

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  12. This is a tough subject, lost my son to cancer, my second wife died from cancer, my fiancee died from cancer, I know the loss of friends and family. I’ve found what words can’t cure, silence can, in my desert alone with God, He healed what no one else could. What pain is still there is wrapped in a cocoon ready to birth a deeper love from with inside me. Thank you for the post, it helped me see a couple of things. Sorry for your loss – just know that loss will grow into a great love for others.

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  13. hi K – I was reluctant to come and read this tonight, just because I am not in the mood for heavy – and well, I never mind going there with death and have actually stepped up to do eulogies and counsel folks during loss –
    but the idea of reading a grief post (even with a good title) was not attractive right now- anyhow – I was logging off and just felt led to not put it off – long story – but I am trying to not keep adding to my weird to do list – and I like keeping my word and so I came!
    well to my delight!
    the ending with Grace and the five minutes of timing at the heaven gate with God was super fun! and the length was perfect – I do not mind really long posts – but sometimes they are like a big meal – and they take time – and so this length here was perfect for this final day’s read!

    and ok – another coincidence- we lost two friends at the tender age of 49- Gary Snyder (2001) and Kip White (2005) and they were also super good friends – had children that were close – 😌
    in closing – I like what cs Lewis wrote about grief – he said it is not something you “get over” (and your opening paragraph really grabbed some meaty thoughts on the social sides of loss)
    and Lewis said instead of getting over the loss – we adapt – and move on like someone would with the loss of a limb – hmmmm (something like that)
    and cheers to sweet Grace – and this amazing tribute to her! 💙🌸👍🏼

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