She’s more than she was to me.

I didn’t know what to expect last Saturday. Two years ago, just before she fell ill, I had lunch with my friend Carmen. We hadn’t seen each other for decades of life, relationships, and changes. Now she’s gone. She’s more than she was to me, so, on Saturday, a sea of unfamiliar faces was not a surprise.

I found one former mutual colleague at the memorial gathering. We tippy-toed over the unfamiliar faces looking for others we knew.

“I really thought I’d see… and maybe even…”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you? She died last month.”

“Dang.” I was genuinely sad, but I sensed it so I said it, “She never liked me.”

It wasn’t news. Mutual friends, including Carmen, often told me, “I don’t understand why she doesn’t like you.”

We never will.

Over the decades, it came up from time to time. Like Carmen, this mutual friend was strongly influential in my life.

After the memorial service, I looked up her obit and Facebook.

She’s more than how she was to me.

Like all of us, she’s multi-faceted.

I’m not putting a veneer or pink lenses over the moments I shared with her. They were hard, career-bending hard, and I probably didn’t come round to it wasn’t about me for a full decade. Yet, I am grateful for her. She was the straw that tipped me away from Academia and into publishing.

I’m also grateful that she is more than what she was to me.

There was a collision of sorts in my heart at this memorial gathering: two brilliant and strong women who impacted my education and career were gone.

Later that day, I spent good energy remembering these two accomplished women. I read the obits and the tributes for both.

I’m reminded that we’re all more than one relationship, more than a handful of moments, more than our mistakes, and sometimes less than our brilliance. Our words, gestures, actions, and personality… a round of robins scattering from the oak across the infinite sky.

I wish I could tell both women “Thank you,” let both of them know that I admired their work and efforts, and share with them that I’m better for having had them in my life.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022