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.