Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not goodbye

by Josh

I met Kelli Stanley's mother Trish for the first time this past September in St. Louis at Bouchercon...but, no, that couldn't have been the first time. It sure hadn't felt like the first time. The words of strangers dance awkwardly around each other. Ours glided.

Prior to St. Louis, Kelli and I had encouraged our mothers to correspond with each other. After all, they seemed to have a great deal in common. They both were hyperliterate woman who had raised hyperliterate children. They both were battling stage four ovarian cancer. There is always a certain comfort found in kinship, not matter what the source, and Mom and Trish had been emailing each other for a few months by the time September mosslessly rolled around.

At the last minute, Mom was unable to come with me to St. Louis.

I met Trish (but not for the first time - it couldn't have been) in the dealers room at Bouchercon and she immediately invited me to lunch. The level of company can raise the quality of a meal, and so the food in the hotel that afternoon was delicious. She, Kelli, Kelli's partner Tana, and I bantered about politics and religion. Strangers can't do that. I told Trish how much I admired her cane, which sparkled - much like her personality. Trish informed me that she had a small picture of Kelli as a child which she kept on a bracelet. She promised to show it to me the next day.

She showed it to me the next day. She was so proud of her daughter. Five minutes later, Kelli won the Macavity. Trish watched it happen from the first row.

Over the course of that weekend, I spent many hours in Trish's company. With pleasure and good fortune, I listened as she regaled me with vivid tales of her childhood. When, finally, we said goodbye, we didn't say goodbye. Later, too, when we continued our conversation via email, we spoke about how we would see each other again, perhaps at another convention where Kelli would receive another well-deserved honor.

This past Sunday, on January 7, Trish Stanley passed away. She did so on her own terms, not in a hospital but at home and in the presence of Kelli, and Tana, and love.

I never got to see her again. I never got to tell her goodbye. But that's OK. After all, how can you say goodbye to someone who is still with you, to someone who was with you before you even met them?


Meredith Cole said...

What a lovely tribute, Josh. I'm really sorry I didn't get the chance to meet Kelli's mom. I'm so glad she could be there to see Kelli get the Macavity!

Our thoughts are with Kelli during this difficult time.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

That's beautiful, Josh. Thank you for posting it.

And thank you, Trish, for giving us Kelli.

Reece said...

Lovely post, Josh. I wish I'd had the chance to meet Trish, but I'm certainly glad to know her wonderful daughter Kelli. And I'm so glad that she had the opportunity to be there to watch Kelli's writing career soar.

JJ said...

A beautiful post, Josh. Not often in a lifetime do such true friends collide. Treasure your memories and let them carry you.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Oh, Josh, there you go, making me cry into my tuna sandwich.

Such a lovely and perfect tribute and what wonderful memories. Kelli is one of my favorite people and I'm sure I would have loved her mom.

Gabi said...

I never got to meet Kelli's mom but your post makes me feel like I knew her, too. That's genuine legacy.

TracyK said...

That's really lovely, Josh. Thanks for sharing your memories of her with those of us who weren't lucky enough to meet her.

Michael Wiley said...

Hear, hear.

Lois Winston said...

Josh, what a wonderful tribute to an obviously special woman. Thanks for posting it.

lil Gluckstern said...

Your tribute brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful woman, and yes, she raised a lovely daughter. My mom died many years ago, and I often wish she was here, and she is.

Jessica Lourey said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. She must have been an amazing woman to have raised such an amazing daughter and earned such words. Thank you for writing and sharing this.