Today would have been Vanna’s 52nd birthday. She may have planned for a quiet celebration with close friends and family at a favorite restaurant, where she would dress festively and take particular care in ordering the food and the wine. Or she may have planned for a trip somewhere familiar and comfortable or new and exciting. But none of these would happen. Vanna left us just after Easter this year.
It has taken me a while to speak of Vanna’s passing. I received copies of the tributes. I heard stories about the masses, the funeral services, how she was so lovingly remembered. I got together with friends in the Bay Area to share and celebrate her life. I wish I was there at the funeral but I could not be. I can only be grateful for the opportunity to have been asked to be of assistance and support through the ordeal. It made me feel part of a cause greater than myself or my world. At the same time, I bore witness to a group of remarkable people, in their unflinching dedication to help her save herself from her own fears and internal demons. She had unwittingly plunged herself into this nightmare for her treatments and arbitrary managements. To sort through and attempt to set the course straight from the misinformation, the myths, and the almost cult beliefs from parties who wanted only her money was practically Sisyphean.
What happens when you have a kaleidoscope of memories tucked away in your mind, of your childhood days that includes someone who you can no longer call, chat or even send postcards to? Not even meet up to catch up from where you left off the last time, so you can revel in their evolution to their new selves? What becomes of more than 40 years of knowing this person, hearing from her what she’s been up to or believes in at the moment? I have searched my mind and somehow, my recollections seem sharper and I savor the bits of conversation I remember, even the circumstances where things were said.
I miss Vanna. I miss hearing from her. I miss hearing about her. I miss talking to her, sharing a meal with her, listening to her about books she read, wines she savored, places she’s been. I will continue to miss her and I know time will dampen this emotion but not the memory. I will continue to celebrate her birthday albeit quietly, for years to come. My calendar will continue to ring a week before the day. I have programmed it to continue on. (I know she might consider this blog sappy but that’s how I’m feeling right now.)
Happy birthday, my dear friend.