I lost one of my very best people in the whole world a few weeks ago.
Calling her a “friend” of over 35 years doesn’t come close to describing what she was to me and I to her. She was an unexpected soulmate and I say that because neither of us would have ever thought two people so very different could have a relationship that would bloom into something as amazing as ours.
Nothing is perfect of course. Penny began with a very rough childhood and her road was rocky for a long time. I always told her she was my hero because of the way she went from sucking lemons to drinking nectar – Woodstock to Paris and beyond. What she lacked in formal education she made up for in her continual hunger for knowledge. Her fashion sense and style were iconic in our hometown. She was incredibly smart and my go-to person for everything. She was passionate about what was important to her, especially women’s rights, culture, food, architecture, design and the people she loved. And I was one of those lucky ones. She was also bossy, opinionated and irreverent and if you couldn’t accept those things then you really missed out on all of the rest.
She was my shiny penny, pennylou, peninah, penzoil, pens – I couldn’t have loved her more. We traveled the world together with and without our husbands. She was always there for me – and I mean always. We argued on occasion and once I smacked her in the head with a magazine, but we always worked it through.
My heart is broken.
I can’t blame COVID-19 for this, although I can blame it for not being able to visit her more often in Ohio while she was sick. She was diagnosed at the beginning of 2020 and passed away at the very end. She was trying to make it a full year. She was brave and strong and Penny all the way.
And now I am trying to just get through my sadness every day, knowing when I get to heaven, she will be waiting there to tell me what to wear.
I am spending time with my pandemic bubble people and relying on their comfort and support – forcing myself, through my grief, to continue on.
Yesterday, in one of my efforts to push through my sadness, I took a (masked) walk with my daughter where we were confined to circling the huge green space in front of her house about a million times while keeping an eye on my granddaughter and her BFF.
Before our eyes they transformed into two beautiful fairies running to and fro with the sun glinting off their shiny hair and their flowy tulle dresses billowing out behind them. (You may have noticed fairies seem to play a big part in my life.) They played hide and seek, they collected rocks, pretending they were potatoes and then they were making them into French fries at their imaginary campfire until the pink fairy ran up to us to tell us that the blue fairy (dragging sheepishly behind) had a little “accident.” “Don’t worry,” we heard
the pink fairy say as they ran into the house, “sometimes I wet my bed still.”
A quick outfit change later and the pink and now lavender fairies were right back to dashing in and out of the shrubs and trees, laughing in the breeze. A wise fairy always has extra gowns in her wardrobe.
Being prepared and rising above the difficult times was one of the many things I also learned from Penny. She was an amazing teacher and I am going to be her best student.
I am so looking forward to a brand new year and a world in which dirty rocks can become crispy French fries and a shiny “Penny” can be worth more than piles and piles of gold.