Something So Strong

I have never participated in a WordPress Daily Prompt before, but at this time of year, I am adrift on a sea of memories.  This prompt spoke to me.

On a warm summer day, against a stunning backdrop of shimmering red rocks, I spotted you sitting alone, listening to the music wafting through space.  It seemed my soul already knew you and raced to greet yours before my feet could carry me to your side.  Everything around me seemed to slow as our eyes met and introductions were made.  Deep within I knew ours was to be a lifelong friendship, even if you had yet to make this discovery.  I seldom left your side that day and quickly learned that on the surface we seemed to have little in common, mine a life revolving around finance, yours that of talented musician and artist.

No one could have guessed the depths our friendship would reach, something so strong drawing me back time and again to your beautiful melancholy smile. With each visit, familiarity gained momentum.  Vulnerability and timidity gave way to raw honesty as we explored our feelings, new discoveries about each other and ourselves unraveling.  A piece of my soul that had been lost once again had found its rightful place.

Yours was a life of great struggle Barb, a battle difficult to witness at times. However, even during some of your darker days, which brought forth tears of anger and frustration, I always felt a calm countenance within you, ready to face whatever life had yet in store for you.  Some of my most cherished memories will always be those rather prosaic tasks we shared that so many of us take for granted, exercises you coveted as your body began to turn against you. Greeting you in the morning and gently lifting you into your wheelchair, brushing your beautiful blond hair as you silently cried, seeking acceptance of the terrible affliction that had wracked your body, showering you as you struggled with the humiliation of feeling your dignity slip away, and sitting at your feet reading to you when you could no longer turn the pages on your own are intimate moments that have become encapsulated in my heart.

You left us much too soon Barb, long before any of us were ready.  There were stories still to be told and lessons for you to teach us, other lives for you to touch.  But you knew it was your time and with that same courage with which you faced your illness, you moved into the next life.

On this eve of your passing, I cannot believe three years have slipped by so swiftly.  The pain of your absence can still take my breath away.  But something so strong as your passion for life amidst your formidable trials has left me with the awareness that any obstacle can be overcome.

As I reflect upon our time together, a myriad of emotions swirl around, moments of profound joy, deep wells of sadness, contemplative stillness, and always the knowledge that we will meet again.  Until that time arrives ~ rest in peace my anam cara.

Beloved friend Barbara Burke

Beloved friend Barbara Burke

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69 thoughts on “Something So Strong

  1. What a treasure your friend Barb is to you. I can tell you know how fortunate you are to have had a friend and soul mate like Barb. Your words speak volumes Lu. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Oh this is just too good for words… what a tribute, you write so beautifully… almost had me going there for a mo… I loved it… LuAnn you are really a talented writer…

    • Thanks Gunta. There are those rare people who come into our lives, touching us in a profound way. Barb was a beautiful gem who touched everyone she met.

  3. It’s amazing the difference one person can make on your life, and she would have enjoyed her time more with you in it. You are a great person to know LuAnn, and I know she had a great friend in you.

    Thank you for sharing what must have been a difficult post for you to write

    • I still marvel at how one person, who is seemingly so different on the surface, could move someone is such a profound way. Barb was meant to come into our lives to teach us, and as her illness progressed she did just that.
      I feel fortunate to have been able to share a few years of my life with her.

      Thank you for your lovely comment Al. I am certain there are those in your life who feel the same about you. :)

  4. Beautifully written, LuAnn. How wonderful that you experienced a friendship of this depth. Many never know this bond with someone so special. You certainly did a marvelous job sharing and honoring your friend:)

  5. I tried to comment, when this posted yesterday, but it didn’t go through. I know how much you miss Barb, and was glad you shared this. My thoughts and prayers have been with you all day, and always. .

  6. LuAnn,
    Beautifully written…Have been trying to think of what to say today,. It feels like she left a very long time ago and yet it feels like yesterday. She inspired so many people and I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent the time that I did have with her. I believe she came to a point in her life that she truly understood the essence of life and what it is all about…Up to the very end she lived with purpose, passion and loved what she was doing. To say I miss her is obviously an understatement but her spirit lives on and inspires me each and every day….My heart is full of love for Barb on this day. Thanks so much Lu for writing such a Great Tribute!!!

    • Pete,
      It is so good to hear from you. It is still difficult to believe Barb is gone. She left such a lasting impression on everyone she met and life is not quite so colorful without her in it. Barb touched everyone in such a profound way. I am certain I will never meet anyone like her again. She taught us all so much about what is important and to live each day to its fullest. My heart is particularly heavy today. Much love is being sent your way. Take care my friend. Love, Lu

  7. I was moved to tears by your tribute to Barbara, friend of the soul. I had a similar experience with a good friend who possessed a similar strong spirit. She not only taught me about how to live; she taught me how to die with the same integrity she demonstrated in life.

  8. What a beautiful and loving tribute, LuAnn. I needed several days to just sit with your post before I could respond. One of our dearest and closest friends died suddenly at age 29 of an aneurysm last September, just a couple of months after we embarked on our full-time journey. It was difficult for us to continue on, but Kevin was one of our greatest supporters in this new life adventure, and we knew that he wanted us to continue. We carry him with us in our hearts everywhere we go. What a great blessing it is to recognize soul connections, as you did with Barb, and to fully open our hearts to the joy and pain of life.

  9. LuAnn, What a lovely tribute to Barb, so beautifully written. I read about your friendship and Barb’s passing when I was reading all your Mexico posts, and I could tell what a toll it took on you. But I also sensed that it was an everlasting friendship that surpasses time and the physical realm. I think Barb is smiling. :) ~Terri

    • She was a once in a lifetime friendship and I feel certain she smiles down on so many people she touched, quite often. Thank you for your comment Terri.

  10. Your words say all, LuAnn. A beautifully poignant piece to remind all of us of life’s yin yang, of a ‘so special’ friendship found, nourished and taken away too soon. Of the pain and endurance we humans are capable of, but mostly that many of our memories of life experiences provide us with reminders of the beauty of friendship and the value of each life we encounter and it’s ability to affect us, for good or bad. This is a wonderful piece and I thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings to words to share with others, LuAnn! I wish I had known Barb. She was an amazing person! xx

    • Barb touched everyone she met in a profound way. I remember a particularly touching time when I took her to a doctor’s appointment. I got her settled, went to the registration desk to announce her arrival, turned back around to her and she was already engaged in a conversation with a little boy just barely able to see above the arm of her wheelchair. No one could resist her charms. Now that I think about it Penny, you remind me of Barb, very talented and with that special gift that allows you to reach out and touch everyone you meet. :)

  11. Pingback: Something So Strong | Cancer Isn't Pink

  12. You wrote that there were “…other lives for you to touch…” She may be gone in body, but through your profound writing, she has touched my life. Brilliant!

  13. Good word! Her soul lingers and at peace with what you’ve written here, Lu. You are such a darling. Really felt the deep connection. Even just the fact that you are wrote this for her is enough.Great piece, great tribute. I bow to thee.

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