If you’re not familiar with the story of my friend, Nancy, go read this blog first.
My courageous, loyal, hilarious, talented, and wise friend, Nancy Dawson, died of cancer on April 27, 2020 at 5:53pm. She lived far longer than they thought she would but that was Nancy – never taking too well to being told what to do. Her husband, Matt, said it best – she didn’t beat cancer, but she did outsmart it.
I took yesterday off from the world – turned my phone off, got in the car and drove for hours, came home and took a nap, and then watched one of her favorite movies. I spent the day thinking about different moments with her – ones that didn’t seem significant at the time like 5 hour lunches, all the times she did my makeup, and rolling our eyes at all the same things, and ones that did – a breakfast she asked me to 5 years ago that I’ll never forget, going to the spa with her and Phoebe just a month or so ago, and our last time spent together alone. I thought about all the times we worked together, when we made each other go to events neither wanted to, flowers she sent me for my birthday, each time I photographed her and the kids, stuffing our faces at Revolution and then walking it off at Washington Park, budgeting in time between clients to go to Findlay for tacos, answered phone calls in the middle of the night when I was in a tumultuous relationship, answered phone calls in the middle of the night after she got sick. I thought about it all.
And I thought about our texts. In a decade+ of friendship, we’d traded thousands of texts. But the last three she sent me were so telling of our friendship. The first: talking shit. We did so much of that. The second: I love you. We told each other that often and sincerely. The last: It’s a cry day.
She used that phrase often towards the end. She would have these great days where she was feeling pretty good and was lucid and she then she would have days full of pain and confusion. Cry days. And when Nancy had a cry day, I had a cry day too.
I sent that last text knowing she wouldn’t read it – she was gone just 78 minutes later. But I wanted this years long thread of texts to end reflecting the love between us.
Because there were plenty of cry days towards the end but they did not define her life. She lived an amazing, beautiful life where she loved well, stood up for what she believed was right, made people feel important, and loved her children, and other people’s children, without reservation or condition. The world has been made better for having her in it, even if not for as long as we’d have liked.
I’m having a cry day today. But it’s just a day, not a whole life. She’d tell me to get it out and then get it together – there’s work to be done and I’m still here to do it.
So that’s what I’ll do.
I love you forever, Nancy.