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.
Folks working in my industry have a gypsy life and I’m no exception. Sometimes its to places you can’t wait to leave, others its to places you find yourself dreaming of living in, others are just plain dreamy…like now. I’m on a Caribbean island for a month. Great, group of co-workers and as all of us are first timers here, this impromptu family is embracing as much of the experience as work will allow for and with gusto. One of the things it has done is to unlock the inner child in all of us. We’re jumping off cliffs, hiking to crocodile lakes, scuba diving, toasting beautiful sunsets, dancing to island vibes after dinner but today was a high light…swimming w horses. I don’t know about you but its been on my bucket list for a long time. My ride was Man Face. Feisty, young, we first rode on a canopied jungle trail of impossible greens, hanging roots, leaves the size of dining tables and breathed in the richest oxygen I’ve probably ever inhaled. Cue the mosquitoes…but it was worth it. On this particular ride, it was just my guide and me. Heading back to the stable along the coastline he asked if I’d ever gone swimming w horses? “May we?” I asked and next I knew we had hung a sharp left into the Caribbean bath waters and were heading straight for the horizon. With little coaxing our horses trotted, then seemed take flight as their hooves left the ocean floor. Our bodies were now suspended afloat over our trusty steeds and we held onto their manes to stay in line over them. The power of Man Face was churning beneath me…he was in his element. Time expanded as I tried to let every second of the experience sink deeply into my DNA. The water was soft, there was lightening in the distance and soft rain bounced like diamonds on the ocean’s flat, pearl gray surface all around us. Absolute heaven. It was one of those moments where you think if it all ended, I’d die happy. I’ll sleep well tonight and with any luck dream of swimming with horses. I wish the same for you.
Well, will have used to be a blog virgin as by the end of this entry I no longer will be one. I have a friend, a gifted, successful writer who wrote the terrifying words “Don’t make me ask you again to start a blog.” He’d thrown down the glove, so here goes.
I’m a middle aged, American woman at a moment of reinvent. At this point in my life everyone is either dead or grown up…for better and worse my life is again mine to do with as I please. I’ve been married and divorced. I raised children I love more than life. I’ve buried my parents. I work now and then. I take adventures. I may or may not find a partner to share this chapter with. I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to friends. I’ve made great choices and more stupid ones than I can recall.
My intention is to share adventures and follies here as they happen, along with some remembrances, in hopes that some of them might resonate with you. Please tell me if they do. I have a modicum of celebrity in my chosen field…I suspect down the line I’ll draw the curtain on who I am. Not today. Hope to see you as I go down this road. Joy to all.