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So Long Jersey Girl

I keep thinking of things I want to invite my friend Sharon to do with me. She’s one of those people who I can always count on to go with me to do the craziest things. We laughed until we cried at the Olate performing dog show, shook our butts at many music events, and have cheered on our thespian sisters at theatrical events. Any time I need a volunteer to help me spread the word about the Finishing School for Modern Women at my booth at the Women’s Fair, or bake in the sun at the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum Art & Book Fair, I knew Sharon wouldn’t tell me “no.” I’ve always loved that about her.

I’ve also always loved Sharon’s directness and candor – to put it lightly. As enthusiastic about her likes as her dislikes, no one ever has to wonder what Sharon’s opinions are. I’d be lying if I told you we never butted heads over our attitudes, but we were always able to make peace and move past it, sometimes agreeing to disagree. A Jersey girl by birth and attitude, Sharon’s a bit more sour than sweet, and has been known to put the “brutal” in brutally honest. Fiercely standing up for her beliefs, especially in her retirement, she grabs life with both hands and lives every minute.

When my phone rang while I was working at my office on a recent Thursday afternoon, I was surprised to see Sharon’s name on the caller id. She called to tell me that it had come to her attention that I was thinking of moving out of town. Sharon wanted to let me know that she is proud of me, values me and doesn’t want me to leave. This rarely touchy-feely, tough chic, told me how much she loves me that if I need anything at all – support, a shoulder, a volunteer, travel buddy, or just someone to hang out with – that she is always there for me. We cried together for a moment, and I hung up grateful for such a great friend and supporter.

That was the last time I had a conversation with Sharon. A couple days later, my friend Sharon would end up in ICU, fighting for her life for nearly two weeks, getting better at first, then declining quickly. While I miss her spunk, spirit of adventure and strong opinions so much, I am grateful that she left this world on her own terms. Even though she’s not here physically, I know Sharon is always with me in spirit. I can feel her support and love around me. I will always hold onto my final conversation with her, always knowing exactly where our friendship stood.

Earlier, I was thinking about how nice it would be to get breakfast with someone before an event I’m attending at noon. Of course, Sharon popped into my mind first, my fingers itching to send her a text invite. Pausing when the reality of it hit, I had to chuckle. I’m sure if she were around, she’d go get a bite with me before her funeral, peppered with loud conversations about current events and lots of cursing. I sure am going to miss her.

So much love.

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