Bonnie was a bright ray of sunshine and the last time I saw her I told her I’d be back in two hours for lunch. I told her I had to work but I would bring my work with me and I’d sit there at the beach enjoying my lunch, my work and the beach. She knew how I loved when I could make that happen.
I headed off to my class expecting to be back.
As happens often at this time of year in Southern Florida, it began to rain hard. The sky opened up and the prospect of packing up to get to the beach for lunch dissipated the hungrier I became.
I made a nice little spinach salad in my kitchen and sat on the porch in the rain to eat it.
Today I came home from being on the road. Bonnie’s gone. She died this last week – young. Some kind of bacterial infection then cardiac arrest. It happened fast.
It’s sad and it’s scary.
Bonnie was a casual friend, she worked up at the beach where she was loved like family. She made quick friends with the people she took care of and shared her emotions ( I LOVE your mother!!) generously. She loved my granddaughter too and shared her sparkly green St. Patrick’s Day crown with her, telling her that she was the real “Princess.” Little Miss wore that crown day and night for the remainder of her visit here last March.
She was sassy and upbeat and she smiled. She moved with a sense of urgency and I loved that about her. She was focused on making people feel good in her presence. I will miss her presence in my life, we all will.
Bonnie, if you can hear me, I just want you to know that.
I have a habit. A practice.
When I lose someone I care about, I think about the qualities in them I love the most and then I think about how those qualities can live on through me.
I started this practice many years ago when my friend Steve died unexpectedly at the age of 43. Steve was real. No nonsense, he said it like he saw it.
Once, when he was interviewing me for a position with his company, a strategic partnership, he observed, “JoAnna – you want your cake and want to eat it too!”
“Why Steve!” I said, “That’s what cake is for.”
As the years went on and friends and loved ones passed from my life I always stopped the busy-ness long enough to think deeply about what it was about each one of them that I loved the most. Then I would choose one or more of those qualities to take on in my own life. In that, I would invite them to live, in part, through me.
Some people believe you can’t be happy if you are grieving, that it may be impossible to be positive at sad times, and that may be true. I cry easily and feel deeply but always find that when I focus on the goodness that that person brought to my life it eases the pain.
As strange as it is to admit, grief grows us. If we allow it to, grief gives us the opportunity to expand who we are and add to our vibration, the good vibes of those we’ve loved and lost.
We’ll miss you Bonnie. I’ll remember to smile more often and take my work to the beach on Sundays – or even better maybe even take more Sundays off and just relax.
When I am working, I’ll move with a sense of urgency and focus and generosity. Bonnie, it was so nice to have known you.