The Goddess Speaks
Friend lives on in life lessons she left behind
IT HAS BEEN 10 years since my friend Paula died. She and her husband, Jodi, lived a couple of houses away from ours. Paula was young, intelligent, beautiful, artistic, world-traveled, self-employed, hard-working and, to top it off, a gourmet cook!
She exercised regularly, didn't smoke, played tennis. She kept an immaculate home, laughed loudly, danced freely and loved life. She and Jodi had just completed remodeling their home, and only weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer.
Paula and Jodi went to Europe once or twice a year on business. At the end of each day, like authentic Europeans, they walked to the grocery store to buy fresh food for dinner. We'd often see them on their deck celebrating the day's end over a cocktail. Just the two of them. Inseparable. Best friends.
Their partnership and lifestyle always inspired me. We became close over the years, and every now and then, I'd slip across the way to sip a glass of cabernet sauvignon with them as we stood on their deck overlooking Kaneohe Bay. Being in their presence was magical.
I learned a lot from Jodi and Paula. They were a striking couple with a zest for life. They turned their house into a beautiful home, doing much of the work themselves. They made fresh, delicious dinners, always served on beautiful plates. They taught me about ambience. Anyone can cook dinner, but turning it into a dining experience makes ordinary days special.
IN JANUARY of 1996, Paula became ill. She was initially treated for an ulcer, but we knew it was more serious. In early March she called to tell me that she had cancer. I remember hanging up the phone, knowing our lives would never be the same.
In March she was hospitalized, never to come back home.
She died on May 7, 1996. I don't know which was harder, watching her life end or seeing her husband having to live without her. In the wee hours of her last day, we each had our personal time with her. When Jodi left the room, I took out her makeup bag and penciled in her eyebrows, dusted her cheeks with blush and put her lipstick on. I tightened the beautiful silk scarf that covered her head. In his last look at her, I wanted Jodi to see the Paula he remembered, and not what the cancer took from her.
I will remember Paula for teaching me how to live life beautifully. To make your house an authentic expression of your life. To make meals matter. To use your good dishes on Thursdays. To find a reason to celebrate each day and to laugh out loud.
As I sit at my computer finishing this story, my teen daughters have their girlfriends over for dinner. I see them setting the patio table with festive dishes and candles. My heart feels so full at this moment. Though it's been 10 years since Paula passed way, she is still right here with us.
Carol Lee Ramie runs Island Investigative Services with her husband.
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
Honolulu 96813 or e-mail email@example.com.