I received some upsetting news today. A friend died.
She was a friend from my oil company days, a friend who served alongside me on the board of a local professional association of which we were both members, a friend whom I had not spoken with in probably five years.
She died on March 8, over a week ago, from breast cancer. Those who notified me had few details, reminding me that she was a "very private person." Which is true. It seems all of us were surprised.
She was raised in Minnesota, I believe, and often spoke to me of her family, which did seem to follow the austere, straight-up Scandinavian-origin stereotype. Privacy was a value she held dear.
Tall, blonde and blue-eyed, she spoke very distinctly, always making sure that each syllable was pronounced, and pronounced correctly.
When she and I were working together we would often meet for dinner at the Galleria after work, always choosing a table outside one of the restaurants so that we could look down at the skaters and enjoy the beauty of the place.
She told me once that she believed in reincarnation, and she even dreamed about it. One dream involved her as a little girl--I wish I could remember more. What has remained for me is this image of her peering around a corner in this dream. And she was someone else.
We traveled together once to a conference. In the airport waiting for our flight, I got up to look at the flight board. When I sat down again she said, "Katherine, you move like a dancer. So graceful." Never in my life, before or since, has anyone said anything like that to me, and I find there are tears in my eyes now as I bring it to memory.
We both served as president of the local chapter of this professional association, my term following hers. The friendships I made while serving in this organization were by far the best thing about it. I actually loved the chapter meetings, the conferences, the board meetings--all because I got to visit with such good friends. What fun we had.
My last get-together with my friend was lunch about five years ago. By that time she had moved to a different company ~ ExxonMobil ~ and had been promoted way up the corporate ladder. She looked beautiful, as always.
Having had the opportunity to know Lea fills me with gratitude, and I am deeply saddened, even disturbed, at this news of her death. I regret not keeping up. I regret not hearing of her death in time to attend a service in her memory.
Lea, I love you. Thank you for your friendship.