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I remember the morning of December 27th as if it were yesterday. I hadn’t heard from my friend, Barb, in over a week despite several attempts to get in touch with her. She wasn’t returning my texts or answering her phone which was more than a little odd. As I was telling my daughter I hadn’t heard from her I stated “Just for giggles I’m about ready to look for her obituary online. We never go this long without some form of communication.” So, I did, and there she was. I can’t begin to describe the intensity of that gut punch. Barb had died on December 20th. I was seven days too late to tell her how much I loved her. Seven days too late to say goodbye. I had no idea she was even ill and did not know the cause of her death. All I know is my friend is gone. All I know is I thought to myself, “I gotta tell Barb that” while reaching for my phone. Gut punch again. I know I will continue to have that reaction every time I hear or read something I know would have interested Barb. The pain of losing Barb will never get better but living with it will get easier.
Barb’s obituary did not do justice to the woman I knew and loved. In her honor I am sharing an amended original piece I wrote about Barb a couple years ago.
Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.
~ Anna Taylor
I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember when Barb and I became friends. It seems like we’ve always been friends even though we did not meet until she became ‘family’ in 2017. When she arrived, she was grieving the loss of her partner, and had been evicted from the home they shared for over 10 years. Barb was quiet, kept to herself and read regularly. As she grew more comfortable, she started talking more and even allowed herself to laugh, occasionally. Barb took our advice and by the end of her stay, moved into a place of her own that would allow her dog and best buddy, Frankie, to live there as well.
One month before her lease was to be renewed, Barb decided to move to Minnesota to be closer to her daughter. I was happy for her. I hadn’t seen Barb since the day she left in 2018, we texted almost daily and that wouldn’t change as they do have texting capabilities in Minnesota. Nothing would change yet her pending departure upset me. I didn’t have to dread Barb leaving for long. Unfortunately, her plans did not go as planned. It was too late to renew her lease, so she found herself back at Frederick Place once again. Once again, Barb did what she needed to do and in 2 months was in her own place, again. Guess what? I haven’t seen her since the day she left yet we are closer than ever.
Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson
Before Barb left the first time, we exchanged phone numbers and occasionally texted with one another. I figured we would lose touch after a while. I was wrong and happily so. At first Barb and I shared what was going on in our lives. I think it may have stayed that way had I not discovered ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.’ I knew Barb was politically aware, having spent a good chunk of her life living in DC where she worked, fundraising for a variety of organizations. If anyone had read our texts, they would have thought we were crazy. Maybe we are. Maybe we weren’t. All I know is that we evolved into a symbiotic friendship, and I cherished her, more than she knew. Barb became a chosen family member.