Monday, July 27, 2015

Soul Sisters

Soul Sisters! Jillie and Lucy

Tuesday, 22nd of July, I was at a super wedding, full of joy and celebration. The President of Sri Lanka even came and I met him and talked to him! There was such excitement when President Maithripala Sirisena arrived. All the mobile phones came out – people even took selfies with him!

The wedding was gorgeous and I will write a blog just on that.

During all the dancing and music I made the mistake of looking at my iPhone and checking my Facebook where I learned of my dear friend Jillian’s passing. I've known her for 35+ years. I knew she had Stage 4 lung cancer but I had prayed that a miracle would happen and that she would survive. I couldn’t imagine a world without her. I didn’t want to imagine that.

I was gob smacked. It felt like my chest had been crushed and yet I was part of Team ShadeTree and had to act professional for the rest of the wedding. I couldn’t break down and sob.

I have so many memories of Jillie; from the early days when I met her at her salon when she waxed and shaped my eyebrows. We had an instant connection. Sisterhood. And later when she moved up northern California to Lakeport, away from the San Francisco Bay area, I learned to love Lakeport through her and tried and tried to figure out a way to follow her up there and be her neighbor.

She was so funny, had a great throaty laugh and could do anything. When I paid to have someone do some carpentry, or electrical, Jillie bought a handyman book and learned to do everything herself. Her house in Lakeport was darling. Decorated in art deco, she even did fabulous stenciling in all the rooms. Everything Jillie saw she made into something beautiful. She even learned the art of stained glass…but not anything normal…art deco and gorgeous. Jillie was my idol. Truly.

Years before, when I lived in San Rafael, she even worked with me to organize my sales business. We had such fun in that stupid little office and she was so much better organized than me. I went on to make the company bigger and better with her help.

The only time Jillie ever got mad at me was when I had planned to go up north and stay with her and her husband Dale for 3-4 days. But the night before I was to leave I took a shower and walked out of
the shower a non-smoker (for the 5th and final time). I watched my mother suffer with COPD and decided I couldn’t bear up to that fate. I didn’t know I was going to cancel my trip to Jillie until I had driven from Los Angeles to Ventura – a two-hour drive. I was crazed with the urge to smoke. Absolutely, absolutely crazed. So, I called Jillie and told her that I couldn’t visit because of her smoking. She smoked constantly. I couldn’t be around it or I’d start back again. Instead I turned the car around and headed back to Los Angeles, but at the freeway turnoff going east, I frantically headed south instead to La Jolla (a 3-4hour trip), to a spa down there. I spent 4 days detoxing from the nicotine in milk baths, saunas, steam baths, not talking on the phone and introducing myself as ‘Hi, I’m Lucy and I just quit smoking.’ People either thought I was crazy, or happy for me, or wishing they themselves could quit smoking.

I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara and walked the city streets, telling everyone, ‘Hi, I’m Lucy and I just quit smoking.’ Even at Hearst Castle I greeted people the same way. I made my way to Carmel and stayed in the quest house where I spent my honeymoon. The owner was so happy that I had quit smoking she gave me a huge discount on the room.

When I headed back home two weeks later, I still wasn’t ‘cured’ enough to be around smokers. And sadly that included my dearest friend Jillie. I never made it up there, but recently Jillie and I recently spoke about me moving from Sri Lanka to Lakeport and renting her little house. We chatted about it for a long time and decided that with my measly little Social Security and even with her cheap rent, that I probably wouldn’t make ends meet. It has been my dream for decades to move up there and be able to row on the lake, have coffee with Jillie, talk about our gardens, me grow veggies galore. She was always in my plans for the future.

She was in a lot of peoples’ plans for she was someone extra special. She and her husband Dale met when Jillie moved to Lakeport and theirs is the love story that everyone dreams of.

When I read the Facebook post about Jillie’s passing, loud music was playing at the wedding. People were dancing. It was a joyous celebration. I, however, could barely breathe. The bride came over to talk to me and thank me for all the great photography that our team was doing. I nodded, and plastered a smile on my face. Jillie’s news wasn’t something I could share. So, I sat through the next two hours while my times with Jillie flashed though my head and I smiled even though I wanted to cry. I heard the music and remembered how into music she and Dale were. I celebrated with the bride and groom as they left the hotel and threw flowers at them, but threw them for Jillie.

It’s taken me days to be able to write this LucysBuzz. I’ve sent Dale my love and a long letter with hope that in time he will heal from the loss of his soul mate. Thank you for listening to me. I needed to tell a bit of Jillie’s story.

Dale & Jillie, such sweethearts.

Jillie during her modelling days. I always thought
she had the perfect turned up nose!

Me, happy spending time on the lake
with Jillie and Dale. My dream place to live.

Jillie, always smiling!

Part of Jillie's beautiful garden.
With Love, Lucy