Dear Nancy, Barnes & Noble

Dear Nancy,

Last week Kevin made himself a cup of decaf coffee at 10 pm and the combination of the smell of coffee and the darkness of the hour brought a memory of us galloping back into my mind.

At that moment I began to viscerally remember the time spent with you at the Cafe in the Barnes & Noble near the mall. We’d drive over when it was dark out (whether that was due to the time or season I don’t recall – maybe both) and sit in the cafe drinking mochas and talking about nothing and everything.

The Cafe had floor to ceiling windows and in the darkness, it felt like the only life on Earth existed right where we sat in that brightly lit coffee shop. A beacon of light and creative energy in the midst of a still night. We would sit at a table for two with the hum of the shop buzzing around us; the hissing of the milk being frothed, the whirring of espresso percolating, and the low drone of conversation.

I’d turn to look out the window but only see us reflected back in the glass: coffees in hand, in intense discussion, oblivious to the future. Our conversations there were often about our fabled future; we talked about getting your book published, my singing career, the person I’d marry (thank God it was Kevin!!), or the house you’d buy.

After chatting for a while we’d roam around. Sometimes together, sometimes apart. You’d look at books about serial killers or how to get your own book published and I’d always be drawn to the journals, so many charming covers with lots of space inside for anything I could dream. I’d wander down aisles losing sight of you but knowing we’d eventually bump into each other. And when we did we’d walk out together, leaving with our stomachs full of espresso, our arms full of books, and our hearts just full.

There is something about the combination of the smell of espresso and books that has a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s a heady experience and one that rivals any buzz I’ve gotten from alcohol. It transcends time and space and that night Kevin made coffee I was transported almost instantly to those exquisite moments that I now only experience in retrospect.

You know the feeling of being in a moment and knowing it’s one you’ll recall and relive over and over? I don’t know if I knew how precious those moments in that cafe were. And if I could go back I wonder if I’d want to know or think about how limited my time with you might be. Instead, I think I’d like to leave younger me with the joy of just being present in your company. The joy of throwing her head back in laughter and feeling so deeply loved because you were looking back across that cafe table and laughing with her.



Dear Nancy, A reflection on your birthdays.

Dear Nancy,

Today you are 52. It’s been 326 days since you died. I’ve spent most of those days trying to find my place in a world that no longer includes you. But I will spend today remembering all of the birthdays we spent celebrating together.

On your 36th birthday: I painted a huge banner that I put up in your dining room, I cooked my famous fried chicken (my parents paid for the chicken by the way), and while I was cooking I FORCED you to relax in a bubble bath. I was desperate to show you how much you mattered in my life. Later that year you helped me leave my abusive relationship. One of your strengths was loving me right where I was and never letting me think any less of myself for staying with him as long as did. You were my anchor as I escaped and my refuge once I was free.

On your 38th birthday: I arrived at your house because I needed a Nancy fix. We hung out and drank coffee. We spent most of the afternoon chatting and laughing. Then your Stepmom arrived and said: “Happy birthday.” And I thought – FUCK. I didn’t remember my best friend’s birthday. You were so sweet and understanding that it escaped my notice because you knew I was preparing to leave for my first year of college in just over a week. I had been so stressed about the change and move I’d been feeling random pain in my sides and I’d gone over to your house that day to alleviate some of my anxiety. And it did. That day I learned the depth of your generosity and kindness.

On your 45th birthday: We spent your birthday in Vegas! We drank and laughed and I used all of my gambling budget on the Sex and The City slots. Then at dinner at Hugo’s Cellar you left your phone in the bathroom and it was stolen. We used another phone to track it down and we ran around the streets of downtown Vegas with stomachs so FULL of wine we could burst. You kept sending the signal for it to “scream” so as to scare off the person who had it. When we finally reached the spot it was supposed to be we saw those 3 guys hanging out by a car and when we asked them about a lost phone they responded “We just lost a phone too!” You knew it was bullshit and so did I. We ended up going home without it only to call the restaurant the next day and find the phone had been turned into the lost and found. That night was crazy and hilarious and I LOVED watching you run after your phone like a badass. You were a badass every day of your life.

On your 51st birthday: You spent this birthday in the hospital. We all came to your room and hung out with you but I could tell you were uncomfortable. You generally didn’t like the spotlight and it was made even worse because you were in a hospital gown and we didn’t know exactly what was wrong yet. A few weeks later I bought you an electric tea kettle as a belated birthday present because you could no longer drink coffee. You were only allowed to drink tea and you were making it with microwaved water so I showed you how to best make tea. I knew that green tea was no substitute for your beloved coffee but I wanted you to have the BEST tea possible to make up for the difference. I wanted you to know you were not diminished by your illness. I wanted you to know that even if life changed that you and I would not. I wouldn’t treat you differently. I wouldn’t handle you with kid gloves or like you had a “FRAGILE” sign around your neck. I would love you right where you were – just as you had done for me.

On your 52nd birthday: Today. Today is hard. Today I want to cry and laugh and scream and sleep. I want to celebrate your life but I also want to mourn the loss of it. But today, mostly, I want to remember all of the things about you we all loved: Your humor, your courage, your ability to see people who are often unseen. Your passion and never ending quick wit that always had me on my toes. Your ability to quote movies you hadn’t seen for years and your ongoing quest to stand up to injustice.

Today I will remember all of these things and more. And I will raise my glass and say “To Nancy, one of the best humans to ever roam this planet. May you spend your birthday in heaven serenaded by Prince & George Michael while drinking copious amounts of coffee. And may you know that we are doing okay, but we miss you always. Happy birthday my friend.”

I love you,


Dear Nancy, The Story of an Unlikely Princess


Dear Nancy,

Do you remember how you got the nickname Nancy?

You sent me a text message once about a broken window at the school you worked for. You said you were investigating the issue and I called you Nancy Drew, to which you replied that I was her best friend George.

And the names just stuck!

It’s the best nickname I’ve ever had. To be fair, I haven’t had very many.

However, I think the story of my first nickname is the one I love the most.

You gave it to me the first day I met you. I was a skinny 12-year-old with few friends and too many things to say.  You were a 31-year-old woman who was the guardian of my dear friend.

I stayed over at your house and our first task after dinner was to do the dishes.

Your house on 15th wasn’t updated with fancy gadgets so we filled the sink with hot soapy water and on top were lots of soapsuds.

Being the precocious pre-teen I was I grabbed a couple of handfuls of soapsuds, placed them lovingly on my head, and proclaimed “I am the Soapsud Princess, bow down to me!”

At the time, however, the “princess” thing was in full swing and you and I didn’t prescribe to the bumper sticker wisdom that “Being a princess is hard work, but someone has to do it.”

Due to our dislike of the princess fad, you changed my nickname to many things: Duchess Soapsud, Soapy, Soapster, etc.

Any iteration of it was fine by me because I was finally someone. I was needed, liked, and even admired as Soapsud. Every time I visited your house you called me by my nickname.  And each time you did I loved you more. I mattered, and maybe, more importantly, I belonged.

You told me your version of that story many years later and how you were bowled over by this firecracker 7th grader who declared who she was and was so full of energy. You felt the moment we met we were simpatico; we saw the good in life while also finding room for sarcasm. We also loved to talk about books and writing while drinking cups and cups of Cortney coffee (your perfect blend of coffee, sugar, and milk).

Dearest Nancy, I believe belonging to you and to our friendship was actually life-changing for me. A sense of belonging was the single most important thing to me at 12 years old and you gave that gift to me.

I’ll never forget it.


George – the Soapsud Princess

Dear Nancy – you died.



Dear Nancy,

You died on October 24th, 2017. It was beautiful that day. Beautiful in a way that made death seem impossible. It had become autumn overnight and the leaves burst forth with orange and red leaves blazing in the sun against a perfect blue sky.

And yet, somehow, you were gone.

You were 51 years old when you died. It’s hard not to feel robbed of many more years of loving you, adventuring in the world together, and the solace of knowing you were close. I still can’t bear to look at our old text messages because I know it will break my heart not being able to send you one.

But I try to focus on the good, on the gift that your life gave to me. Meeting you when I was 12 was a gift. You are in my DNA. You helped build me. I look back on these 20 years of friendship and see your influence in difficult decisions, joyous moments, and times of transition. I am who I am because you loved me, nurtured my heart and spurred me to action. And because you were, and are, my best friend.

I hated saying goodbye. I know you’re close, of course. I can often you feel you near. But I miss the comfort of our easy friendship. Of not having to explain myself, although I often did anyway. I miss the way you made me laugh at our stupid inside jokes – like how you were Nancy Drew and I was her best friend George. I miss how you would just know when I needed you or what I needed to hear. I miss sitting with you over a cup of coffee.

I think it’s the normal/everyday moments I miss the most. Because they may seem mundane or routine to an outside perspective – but they were an anchor in my life. A place to come home to.

I suppose you already know, but don’t worry – we’re taking care of your Mister. The day you died I cooked him my famous fried chicken and mashed potatoes. That first week we were at your house almost every night. I knew you were there in the room with us and I could feel your gratitude. I know the hardest part of leaving was leaving him behind.

I’m not sure if you had come to terms with the possibility of dying. Sometimes I want to ask you if you were prepared, or if anyone is ever prepared for death. You tried to protect me when you told me about your progress and prognosis. But, I could always tell when the news wasn’t good and that you were filtering a bit for me. I love you for that.

And I love you for a million reasons. So many reasons that this is just the first letter of a collection. I am writing to you because I don’t want to forget our adventures. Our coffee chats. Our everyday moments. I don’t want to forget a single second of you.