For a few days now, I’ve known an old friend of mine was ill. I tried to reach her on the phone, but she was in the hospital and sleeping a great deal and I was always worried about waking her up. I’ve been getting updates on her third hand through a mutual friend and from her sixteen year old son, a boy I’ve known since he was 1.
Last night, my friend passed away.
I’ve spent the last few days remembering her, remembering how we met, the time we spent together and the things we used to do together. As I type this, I remember the first time I met her, we’d both belonged to a writer’s group and we met through our mutual interest in the group. At first, it was just letters, then we talked on the phone.
When I was 19, I moved to New Jersey, not far from where she was living. I was trying to get closer to the central hub of publishing for different forms of writing. Over the years, we forged a strong friendship and she welcomed me into her family. I knew her children very well, the baby and the older boy. Her husband was a quirky, fun guy and her brother was fun in his way.
A few years ago, her brother was killed in an attempted robbery at the place he was working. A time after that, her husband died of a heart attack brought on by an epileptic seizure and last night – she passed away leaving two children – one who is 16 and another who is just 21. Round and round my thoughts go and I think about those days and I think about the intervening time and the fact that our lives drifted apart.
The last time I saw her was at my wedding and we’ve only talked in sporadic notes here and there and yet – with her passing, I feel like a part of my past has passed away. We won’t ever sit up late over coffee; swapping ideas about how a particular storyline we were working on will go. We won’t be able to speculate about the latest shows or movies that we both enjoyed. We won’t debate religion or politics. I won’t sit at her table for Purim and I won’t get to enjoy Hanukah in her home again.
Her funeral is on Friday and I will not be able to attend it. Late last night, my husband sat and listened to me as I shared my memories of her. I can sit shiva for her here in my own way – probably not the proper Jewish way, but that was her faith and not mine. So what I can do is remember her here. Her name was Leah Adezio and she was a little bit crazy and a whole lot of fun.
She inspired me and she challenged me and she made me nuts with some of her ideas. She supported me. She loved me and at a time in my life when I needed it, she opened her home and her family to me. I am going to miss her a great deal. I know we were not in each others pockets as we once had been, but I always knew that her light was out there in the world and now that candle has gone out.
Please say a word or a prayer or a thought for her two sons, Stephen and Daniel today as they mourn the loss of their mother and my friend. I will miss you Leah and thank you for all the wonderful ways in which you touched my life — you will never be forgotten.