You were a good person to know. And I am glad we were friends. I cannot describe how saddened and shocked I was to hear about you dying. People have started to say this word "passing", as though somehow all of this has been one big day at school and then you get to graduate. I don't get this. So I don't say it.
Working every day with someone for 5+ years, you take the good with the bad. You were always smart and very tolerant of a hot-headed girl right out of college, and though we knocked heads occasionally it never lingered. Course there was that day I got so mad at you I nearly drove my car into yours as I left the parking lot. Glad I didn't do that. You probably never knew that crossed my mind. It was a long time ago, I was 23, and I went up to the mall to buy a dress for my first official date with David right after that. The good thing about working with a bunch of guys, I've found, is that conflicts come up and get addressed and then go away pretty fast. Not a lot of grudge holding. We've been friends for a long long time. I loved your stories and was always so impressed by how clean you kept your paintbrushes over the years, as if they'd never been used. You probably didn't know that either. I loved that you got the guys together and you all walked out after another one of John's tirades. Wish I'd been there to see that!
There was a lot more you didn't know. You didn't know that every time I went to Rhode Island I wanted to bring you back some soupy, I'd done that a few times but really, I started at some point to associate you with going home. This year, just last month, I was supposed to go up, and I didn't. But when I was planning it I thought, oh I will get Danny some soupy and go down to the shop to see him. I didn't go up. And I didn't go to see you, even though I'd been thinking of you a lot for several weeks. I thought of you yesterday when I noticed the date. It has been 10 years since I quit the shop, and you've been there for 15 I thought. Then I thought it looked like I would get up this fall, and that meant going to the cider mill, and I'd bring you back some cider like I did all those years ago. And this time your housemate wouldn't drink half of it. I would like to think you knew that I was thinking about you, because I would do stuff like that. I hope you did, because I was.
I am sorry I didn't know you had cancer. It can't have been all that long since the last time I've seen you, maybe a year? I guess that is about how often I've gone down there, once or twice a year. I wish I'd known your mood had shifted with being sick. I wish I'd told you all these things.
A fire. What an awful way to go. I can't breathe for a moment when I think of how panic stricken you must have been. Were you looking for the cat? We'll never know. You didn't deserve such an end.
I'll always remember your stories about your mom, and that sick tree, and life and all the other things you chose to impart over the years, and the times we spent working together. Like when you joked that watering your garden was like giving the plants welfare. And sweeping the shop with you listening to the Dead the day Jerry Garcia died. The first project we ever did together ripping all that damn masonite into 2" strips (and then beveling BOTH edges) to make tambor for the Baseball2Nite set because John was too cheap to buy it made. And then no one getting to see the set ever because that was the year the baseball strike happened!
Storm clouds have been rolling this way for at least an hour. I have to go bring the houseplants inside before the rain comes.