A Tale of Friendshipfeatured

Picture of Sunrise with a quote

Sunrise in Milwaukee taken from my hotel window the morning of Tracy’s funeral.

My heart is heavy. One week ago today the world lost another wonderful person to breast cancer. She was many things to many people but to me she was my best friend. At her funeral I was able to honor her and our wonderful friendship through this tribute. I wanted to share it with you. 


This is an impossible day. And yet, here we are. Neither Tracy nor I are ones to speak freely and comfortably in public so I am going to ask Tracy for some of her incredible strength and courage as I tell you the tale of our friendship.

If you were to run a highlight reel of my life the last 24 years, Tracy would have a starring role.

We met freshmen year at the University of Michigan. There was one room separating our dorm-rooms freshman and sophomore year. We were conservative Mid-western girls (though I think we would deny both at the time) who were both art majors. We became fast friends and a majority of our college experience was spent together. There were parties, boyfriends, break-ups, school projects, spring breaks—so many laughs, so much fun. The two of us spent two summers on our own at her family’s lake house in northern Michigan. For anyone that’s been, you know that summers there are magic. We waitressed, we worked at tourist trap gift shops in Leland, we spent endless hours floating in the middle of the Little Traverse Lake and countless hours driving around the Leelanau Peninsula in her Suzuki Samurai belting out Tori Amos and 10,000 Maniacs songs—she with her lovely singing voice and me, well, not so much. We traveled around Europe together before taking Spring Term classes in Florence, Italy the summer between our Junior and Senior Year. We had plates smashed over our heads in Greece while we were rosy cheeked with Ouzo and sunshine. She was there when I started dating my now husband Bill Senior year of college, swiping a glass for him from Goodtime Charlie’s one of the first times we were all hanging out together. She was maid of honor in our wedding, and I was a bridesmaid in hers. For nearly eight years, we lived two blocks away from each other in Chicago. She was one of the first people to meet my sons when they were born. She is my youngest son, Jack’s, Godmother and I am Noah’s.

She was a great friend, the best. She was loyal, kind and generous and would drop everything if I needed her. She knew more about my thoughts and feelings and struggles than perhaps anyone. She was my biggest cheerleader—she believed in me always and had more faith in my talents and abilities than I do in myself. She was not just a friend, she was a sister, and she was family.

Tracy was a very sensitive and emotional person. She wore her feelings on her sleeve and tears flowed easily for her. You didn’t dare go to the movies with Tracy without being armed with two things—candy and Kleenex. But, I think we can all agree that despite her tendency to ere on the weepy side, Tracy was not very tolerant of the corny or overly sentimental.

That is why of all the gifts she’s ever given to me: the jewelry, the books, the clothing, it is this little note she sent me that means the most. I don’t remember exactly when she sent it. I’m pretty sure it was before her diagnosis. I feel like it has traveled from book to book as I’ve read them for several years now. Like so many things now, I wish I had paid closer attention. Tracy was always queen of the thank you notes and I remember wondering as I found it in the mailbox what the heck she was thanking me for now because I received it on a random day, not for any special occasion. It reads:

Jen,

 I know it’s corny, but I was watching Oprah today and she was talking about how lucky we are if we have even one close friend—someone who will really “jump into it” with you. I’m so glad I have you as that friend.

And on the back she continued writing with a quote:

“Connection is the energy created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment.”

 Miss you
-Tracy

Well, my dear T-Marie I don’t think it’s corny at all but the fact that you thought it was and decided to let me know anyway makes it all the more meaningful to me. Thank you. Thank you for being that friend to me. I love you and I miss you so, so much already.


 

About the author

Jennifer Stefanek

Hello, I'm Jen. I am a forty-something closeted artist and designer. This blog is a place for me to chronicle creative projects big and small in an effort to re-ignite and rediscover my creative self. I am The Picadilly Project.

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