I drove toward Langley with the windows down and the music blaring. 70 degree days are rare in a Pacific Northwest spring day, and even rarer in April. I’d gotten some work done, so I felt good about taking the evening off.
No, wait that’s not right… let me start again.
I spent the evening in a room with over 200 people, gathered for a common purpose.
Hmmm, sounds like a school board meeting.
Pouring rain would have been more appropriate than this cloudless blue sky. We 200+ people gathered to say goodbye to our friend Jude, who less than one month ago lost her battle with lung cancer.
Everyone knows the old stereotype that at your funeral, no one will say a bad word about you. That was certainly the case tonight. The difference is, that everyone was right about Jude. She was good, 110%. Those of you with long term friendships know that sometimes you think your friends are jerks, and that they annoy the hell out of you. Never in the 20+ years that I knew Jude, did I ever wish she was one bit different. We, her friends, more than likely gave her plenty to complain about, but she rarely (if ever) did. As I listened to friends, family members, and her co-workers from the Everett Clinic say goodbye to her, and read us their remembrances, something became very clear:
She had this effect on every one of us. She was smart, she was funny, she remembered what was important to you and about you and you felt like you were the most important person in the world to her, and when you were with her, you were.
I met Jude and her husband Chris a year or two after they had moved to our little corner of paradise. I was single at the time, and struggling in the first few years of tossing my crappy job aside in order to paint full time. I had countless dinners at their house, they came to my shows, bought paintings, and welcomed me into their family. We went for walks, and leaped about in aerobics class. We watched Princess Diana’s funeral on TV together.
As years went by, we got busy with other activities, I started seeing someone, Jude’s job got more demanding, she started playing tennis, but we always kept in touch, even if we didn’t see each other as often as we’d like. But when we did, it was as if no time had passed at all. We could just get down to what ever needed talking about. That is a rare thing and I’ve learned to treasure that kind of friendship when I find it. She gave so much.
My friend and advisor is gone. I can hear her voice in my head, complete with Philadelphia accent. “Hey! Cut out the whiney stuff! You have stuff you want to do. Don’t wait. Do it now. Don’t let anyone stop you. You are amazingly talented and there is no time to waste. Listen to me, I know.” 62 years is way too early for you to go.
Goodbye Jude. I love you to the moon and back.