Observe Closely


I lost a dear friend this week. When I found out about her death Thursday afternoon I took a slow walk around the block and then grief-ate an old fashioned doughnut from Starbucks. Turns out the neighborhood at work is not overly accommodating of the receipt of unpleasant news.

Janet was an artist. She used to set up her easel in battlefields in Maryland and Virginia. She told me the story of how she once struck up a conversation with a Civil War reenactor when he wandered over to see what she was painting. What are the craziest questions you get asked, Janet wondered? There were two he liked best. 1) Is that fire real? And 2) How is it that all these battles took place on national park property?

That was one of my favorite Janet stories. There were many others. Like when she spoke on her mother’s behalf at the United States Croquet Association Hall of Fame induction ceremony (yes, that’s a real thing); or when she referred to one of our colleagues as being like an eagle shot out of a cannon, which is the most apt description I have ever heard; or when she took me to my first NHL game and told me how an errant puck once slammed into the very seat where I was sitting; or sitting up on her roof drinking wine in the galactic glow of the supermoon.

She was one of a kind. Inimitable, a friend of ours remarked, and I cannot believe that it’s over for her. I cannot believe that she is gone. She was the kind of person for whom you just imagined the fun and the adventure wouldn’t – indeed couldn’t – ever stop.

I am so grateful to have known her, and I will miss her always.



3 thoughts on “Observe Closely

  1. This made me cry all over again, and also remember how Janet used to like to troll people at museums etc with complete lies about the historical sites or art or whatever was on view.

    • billgillislive

      Your story about her making the NO sign for you captures her so perfectly; I laughed when I read your message. Anytime I receive an email that is either a waste of my time or otherwise comes from someone whose character I question or who I just don’t like, I hear her voice saying, DELETE. There were certain people whose messages she deleted without reading and without exception.

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