I got a message today. “Morning neighbor…would you like some fresh apricots :)” Of course I would. We love apricots. The message was from Mary Jo. She and her husband and daughter live in the Asbury house. The log house. The house Sandy was living in when she got cancer. The house she was living in when I first met her. The house where I spent a lot of time with her.
The timing of this message was perfect. I am usually not home during the day, but today I stayed home with a miserable headache.
I hopped in the car and headed over. It felt weird. It was kind of overwhelming. I pulled into the driveway. I hadn’t been on this path in years, since 2003. Everything looked different, but the same. The trees were so much bigger. The garage looked so much smaller.
I met Mary Jo outside and we talked about how much bigger the trees and shrubs were. We walked around the yard. It was beautiful. She showed me her butterfly garden and her she shed. Everything was beautiful. They have done such a wonderful job caring for the property. So peaceful and so inviting. The sound of the leaves blowing from the wind was heavenly. It was like they were talking to us, telling us their secrets, making sure we knew.
The apricot tree was HUGE. I barely remember it being there. The branches were so heavy with fruit they were almost hanging to the ground. They looked like they could break at any second.
It was kind of eerie walking around, remembering.
The flag pole looked so small now. The trees were tall enough to cover it up. Sandy would always say if the garage door was open and the flag was up, anyone could come and visit. That was their sign. That was their signal.
Mary Jo asked if I wanted to come inside. I said sure. I would love to. As soon as I walked in, I felt your presence. It went through my whole body. You were there.
We went in the kitchen. I could see you standing at the counter. It was like you were frozen in time. Making shrimp scampi and having a glass of chardonnay and doing your best Pee Wee Herman laugh. My favorite.
We went in the bathroom, off the master bedroom. They updated the bathroom and it was gorgeous, so tastefully done. I remember then, standing at your dresser, going through your jewelry. Trying to decide what you would want to wear to your funeral. Going through your closets, wondering what to do with your clothes. We just didn’t know. I can still smell your perfume, Dona Karen Cashmere Mist. Every time I smell that I remember you. The smell of sandalwood and vanilla gets me. I love that smell. Mary Jo had some kind of vanilla perfume or body spray on too. I could smell it when she was standing by me and the breeze was coming towards me.
Next we went up to the loft. My favorite room of the house. I could see Nancy and Kathy and me, sprawled out on the floor as we wrote your obituary. The story of your life. The story of you. Trying to get it right. Trying not to disrespect you.
We came back downstairs and went back outside and talked some more about the trees and the property. I thank Mary Jo for inviting me over. It was a very special visit.
As I got in the car to head back home, the tears started. I couldn’t help but miss you. The irony set in. I am older now than you were when you passed away. You were only 50. Life is crazy. Life is sad. Life is peaceful. Life is beautiful. Sandy, you are missed.