Dear beautiful Patti Jo,
This is one of my favorite photos. You and India met, and I felt like your souls connected.
You were immediately entranced with each other.
I think you look like woodland fairies in an enchanted garden.
I know you are in pain, and I'm so very sorry. I wish I could take it from you. I wish I could cradle you and soothe you, although I don't know that that would be of comfort at this point.
I love your grace, and your kindness, and your gentle manner. I love your humor, the twinkle in your eye, and your lyrical way with words. I love that you save animals, and then, when they get old and don't get out to exercise, you build them an apartment with multiple levels out of a bookcase, and entice them with treats to climb to the top.
I know those days are past, but they are the embodiment of you.
While we will not see each other again in this lifetime, we are made of stardust, and we are all connected, and that doesn't end when this life does.
I know I will see you everywhere.
I'll see you in the blue of the forget-me-nots, the kind we both used to enjoy in Grandma Margaret's garden. In the sparkle of the waves on Lake Superior. In the foghorns--such a hauntingly beautiful sound--reaching out to ships. In the incredible lake fogs, for that matter. The kind that surround you with a soft hug.
I will see you in those mysterious circular glints that show up in photographs, that I just know are loved ones saying hi. I take comfort in the thought that you will be in great company.
I'll see you in the clouds, in the sunshine, in the green of the trees.
For us, you will be everywhere.
You'll be the lush ferns, the birds, the doe in the woods near your house, dipping her graceful head to drink. The dogs and cats, tilting their heads to hear something that we cannot.
You'll be pie enjoyed on the road up the coast. M&Ms eaten giggling in your yard while playing your created games. Bridgman's ice cream.
You'll sway in the wind like the elegant cattails, and take to the air and float freely.
Sometimes I lament the time we didn't have--the in-between time when we didn't know each other. But mostly I am grateful for the time we did have.
When you were a kid you used to sing, "My best friend is Charlene Foster." I didn't really know you then, and I certainly didn't know Charlene, but my parents told me the story. Or maybe your mom told us one summer. I cannot remember, but Betty and I sang it. It was catchy, somehow.
For me Duluth is all wrapped up with you, and you with Duluth. I come there for family and for memories, and I always will.
And you gave me the gift of family. You gave me our ancestors, helped me come to peace with my dad and his parents. I think you gave my father peace, finally.
You gave me the link to future generations, and that is a gift I will continue to share with my kids. I told Jen that now that I have her, I am not letting go.
You'll always be in the the thrill of rides on lakes, in the mud as the kids squish and play, in the splashes of water, and in the terrifying fun of being tossed by cousins into the water.
But most of all, you'll be in the safest, coziest of places, with the rest of our loved ones: in our hearts.
We are made of stardust, and we are all connected. And we always will be.
I love you now and I love you forever.