Dear Nancy on your 53rd birthday!

Dear Nancy,

Today you would have been 53. Your birthday is always a day I revel in my memories of you and the other day I remembered something you said about patience. You once said that we, the human race, had become so impatient we couldn’t wait 2 minutes for our coffee to reheat in the microwave. That’s often how I feel about seeing you. I want to be patient because I intend on living a full long life, but I’m also desperate to be close to you again. I’m pretty sure you’ll be the person waiting for me when I go. You’ll open up your arms and say “Hey George” and I’ll be a puddle of good feelings because it will have been years (God-willing it will be) but the moment you hug me I know it’ll only feel like seconds that we were apart.

Sometimes I think about you and you feel right there, like there’s a thin veil between you and me and I just can’t see you. When Kev and I talk about you we either laugh or cry about how close you feel. We’ll laugh at the morbid jokes we come up with about your death that you would deeply appreciate and we feel you laughing with us. You are missing in every good moment, but somehow you’re still there.

On your 53rd birthday I want to tell you that I’m doing well. Your death & the loss of our friendship is like a hole inside of me. The hole is painful to carry, but over time it’s grown smaller. And all around it a beautiful garden has grown. A garden of memories, laughter, new friendships, deepened relationships, self-love, acceptance, forgiveness, and love. It’s a garden that I take great solace in and one I walk through often when I miss you.

I have lost you, but I have gained so much wisdom and peace. I am fearless in ways I never was. And I am a badass because you taught me how.

Happy birthday Nancy! Tonight my toast is to you, your life, and your legacy. May I always carry you with me as I go.





Dear Nancy, I am not throwin’ away my shot.

Dear Nancy,

I’ve begun a new ritual. Each morning in the car I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, and more specifically, the song “My Shot.” Alexander Hamilton is fiercely singing about his drive to show up and go all in on his life despite his rough start, and despite all that is stacked against him.

Just hearing the beginning of the song can bring me to tears almost instantly, but there is one section in which Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice is at a fever pitch – on the edge of yelling but still singing, and I catch my breath each time:

“I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation
I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow
And I am not throwin’ away my shot.”

Your death was more than a surprise to me; it was a full on sucker punch. Before then I lived comfortably in a bubble of contentment and safety. It was easy to relax and never push myself to do more. Or be more. I had all the time in the world to make things happen – tomorrow was just a good time as any.

Enter the sucker punch. The burst bubble. The grief, the loss, the emptiness, the madness, the anger, the sudden loss of safety.

It was more than a wake up call. It was a call to LIFE.

And all at once I decided “I am not throwin’ away my shot.” I am not waiting another minute to do this work. To create, to laugh, to take risks, to begin.

You were a writer before anything else. You poured over books, blog posts, newspaper articles. It filled you up. And it flowed out of you, a torrent of ideas and knowledge and words and stories.

But you were rejected. You gave your manuscript to someone you trusted and she ripped you to shreds and told you lies.

I’m afraid you believed her. I’m afraid you didn’t keep going or invest in yourself because you thought she was right.

You were told “no” so many times in your life. You were weighed down by the limitations of your health and hearing loss. But you kept going. Found a new route. Exceeded all expectation.

But this. This is one of those moments where I wonder what your life could have been if you didn’t put so much stake in her words. If you had rejected her rejection.

Because, you see, I am not throwin’ away my shot. I am not throwing away the opportunity of truly living. To go so big that I have few regrets, if any. I am not throwing away the gift of perspective your life and death has given me.

I am not throwin’ away my shot. Or yours. I’ve thought recently how your death has made me a writer. So maybe, in this way, it is your shot. Not your words, but your influence and your love. Not your story, as it’s not mine to tell, but the ways our lives intertwined and created our story.

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
When’s it gonna get me?
In my sleep, seven feet ahead of me?
If I see it comin’, do I run or do I let it be?
Is it like a beat without a melody?
See, I never thought I’d live past twenty
Where I come from some get half as many
Ask anybody why we livin’ fast and we laugh, reach for a flask
We have to make this moment last, that’s plenty

I’m going to make these moments last and, dear Nancy, I am not throwin’ away my shot.





Dear Nancy, One year without you.

Dear Nancy,

Today you have been gone from the Earth for 365 days. Each day was a little different. Some were so filled with joy that the pain I felt was a low hum. Others I was drowning in the well of my grief.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But each of those days cultivated something in me: strength, resilience, patience, and the deep workings of love & healing.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I write myself notes on my calendar each month that read “Lisa is proud of you” because I want to remember that each time I create something new that you are proud that I’ve taken this anguish and made something beautiful.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I know you’re reading this so I want you to know that I miss talking to you every. damn. day. That might be the hardest. I don’t have a coffee date with you or a funny text exchange to look forward to. No one else gets my South Park jokes or 80s movie references. But it’s ok.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Because in the last year, I have been loved by many. I have never been alone. I have received support through handwritten notes, DMs on Instagram, text messages, emails. And I have dug deeper and deeper into friendships with amazing women that I know will last a lifetime.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I miss you all the time, but I’m grateful you are near. We are bonded together forever and I know I’ll never truly be without you. I hope your first year in Heaven was a kick! I hope you are hanging out with Bowie and Prince. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I love you always. And when we meet again I know that first hug will be the sweetest and will feel like coming home.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Dear Nancy, Was It You?

Dear Nancy,

You’ve been gone for 9 months. And yet…

Two weeks ago I swear you were holding my hand. I was half-asleep on the couch and felt your two warm hands holding mine. The sensation was as real as my fingers typing these words on this keyboard. Was it you?

A month ago I stumbled upon a card in a random section of Powell’s. I felt drawn to the shelf where this simple card sat. It read: “I miss you. Nobody here understands how hilarious I am.” Was it you?

2 months ago I was driving in total silence. Suddenly I felt the urge to sing “Purple rain, purple rain,” one of your favorite songs and your absolute favorite color. Was it you?

4 months ago I had a whole conversation with you in my dreams. You told me you couldn’t visit often but would come when you could. We talked for what seemed like hours and I woke up happier than I had been in months. Was it you?

6 months ago I had a total meltdown. I was exhausted, grieving, and too busy. My husband put on my favorite record and filled the living room with candles. I heard you say “This is why I knew you’d be okay. Look how he loves you.” Was it you?

You’ve been there in a hundred tiny moments; they don’t escape my notice.

And each time I laugh or cry and think – was it you?