Friends come and go in our lives. Often circumstance and distance pry us apart and, I must admit, I’m pretty lousy at keeping in touch.
Because a person is physically absent doesn’t mean they haven’t left an indelible imprint on our lives.
Nancy. Aside from being one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, Nancy was a gifted songwriter, voice-over artist and actress. Hair-trigger laughter and sadness. She was never, not ever dull. A mutual friend once said that looking into her eyes was like staring into the sun. He had a crush on her. Everyone did. Her perma-rasp voice gave her a sultry ring of authority so that whatever she said sounded deep and true. Given that she held no punches, you could count on her to tell it to you straight. Blue eyes twinkling under perfectly disheveled, blond bangs; with a wink and a smile, you would buy whatever she was selling.
When her mother became ill, Nancy gave up her career and dedicated herself to caring for her, remaining by her side for quite some time until the end. Later when Nancy herself had health problems, I visited her in Nashville. We watched a lot of movies, messed around with makeup, went shopping, drank wine, played music and laughed until tears soaked our cheeks.
She moved to Chicago. Changed numbers. From time to time, out of the blue, she would reach out and give me a new number. Years went by. Once I became a mother, it simply became harder for me to find… make the time. Although I never stopped caring about her, our calls became rare and far apart. It happens. It just does. That’s life, we say.
Years ago I tried to reach out to the various phone numbers I had and none were viable. I finally tracked down a phone number for Nancy through a mutual friend and we talked for an hour. She had just completed shooting a small part on a hit TV show and was pretty jazzed about reigniting her acting career. The next time I tried to call that number, it didn’t work, nor did the email address she had given me. This wasn’t uncommon in my experience with Nancy. She was a restless soul.
I always knew we’d catch up.
In recent years, I have tried to track her down online, on Facebook and Google, but never found a trace of her. I’m not sure why I searched again today. But, today I found her.
My heart aches that I wasn’t there for her, not that she needed me. She was such a charismatic, loving, complicated, talented woman, I have no doubt she was surrounded by love.
She didn’t need me, but when I needed her, she was there for me many times and I leaned on her heavily as a young woman and a budding singer/songwriter at the time we met. Even as the years passed and my musical aspirations faded, she always gave me a boost and told me that my music had value, whether or not I ever earned a cent from it.
She was beautiful, loving, intense and just a little dangerous. I am not sure that I ever told her how much she meant to me. I hope she knew. The impact she had on so many people. Learning of her passing is just another painful reminder that we don’t always get another chance to say the things we want to say to the people we love.
Say it now.
I love you, Nancy. Thank you.