As a young teen my parents made good friends with a couple who lived half way around the world from us. They too had teenaged children and the Mom’s hatched a plan for a combined and extended summer vacation in the south of France. Fortunately, once together us kids also all got along famously. As a young adult my new turned old friend had the exceedingly good sense to marry a spectacular woman, Jo, who became my soul sister of 40 years. She died today. It was expected, damn cancer charged into her body a year ago and after a valiant battle she has succumbed.
Jo and I too all our adult lives have lived half a planet away from eachother but each of our careers made it so that we were able to get together with enough frequency to remain on the inside track of one another’s lives with the added advantage of an objective view. We saw eachother through the early career growing pains of articulating how we were going to make our mark. We shared the longing for children and the painful uncertainties of managing to have our babies. We literally wept tears of joy for the other as we each, in turn, experienced the grandest privilege of all…becoming Mothers. We heard the burden of our husband’s infidelities and white knuckle fears of raising our babies without our mates’ financial support. (I’ll hasten to add that we each were blessed with husbands who loved their children fiercely and in spite of our carrying the financial burden and divorces, we enjoyed enduring and deep familial ties with the fathers of our children. That will be for another posting.)
For all our similarities and synchronicities Jo had something I do not…an unparalleled ferocity of joy. Gusto everyone who knew or even met her, admired.
She had big dreams, pioneering visions that included the success of everyone she loved. She tirelessly carried the psyche of family members over psychological chasms on a regular basis. She never let go, never lost hope, never blamed, never quit even when brutally betrayed.
We bolstered each other through hard times, laughed at menopause when it came. Coached eachother through countless chapters of reinvent. Talked through our ever evolving understanding of God. Shared our deepest secrets. Nothing needed translation. I never imagined I would be heading into this chapter of life without her.
The day after I heard she had been diagnosed I got on the plane and flew 12 hours to see her. As I was walking to her in the hospital room, the look on her face as she realized it was me is something I will never, not ever, forget. We knew the end was coming but what the hell, we were in the moment, we had eachother. I feel we are still in the moment. I still have her. She still has me. Party on darling, magnificent, irreplaceable Jo.