A former colleague and friend died this weekend. Colette was young, in her thirties, and one of the most vibrant people I know. I wasn't very close to her and her family. I would have liked to have been closer. When I worked with Colette, I always enjoyed the parts of projects where I got to work side-by-side with her.
People always talk about her positivity and her energy.
If eyes are the window to the soul, then Colette's eyes betrayed a bright, happy soul. I remember her in a little black cocktail dress, when my wife-to-be (our future together unbeknown to either of us, or at least me) and the rest of the women who worked on a floor in our office we fondly referred to as the Lido Deck, hosted a company party by outfitting the place like a swanky lounge and greeting the rest of the company in a line of similarly attired hostesses, offering silver trays of hors d'oeuvres as we entered.
She will always live in my memory as a pair of sparkling eyes.
I ran into Colette socially, on occasion, too; Portland is a small town, after all. I shared a drink with her at a housewarming party, when Kris moved into her downtown condo. I recall seeing her on fifth avenue, arm-in-arm with Michael, who I hadn't met yet, waiting for a bus. My impression was that they would have been happy if the bus never came and they would have stood there all night, canoodling each other on a beautiful Portland evening.
How do we spend our time? The minutes filled with memory and experience because we are here, now? Or does the hour-hand move too slow on our way to the next thing?
I know that, partly, that image stuck with me because I wanted that in my life. I wanted that love from a partner who wanted to meet me and be my match. Michael and Colette, in that moment, modeled that thing I knew was possible; that thing I wanted and found not too long after.
So, what do you say when a young, beautiful woman dies much too soon?
I wept a bit for her small children. I felt a hollowness for her husband, who has so passionately advocated for her over the course of fighting this disease for over a year. I felt the warmth of my wife's tears on my shoulder, as we recalled our moments with Colette over the past seven years; most of those moments piled up early on.
I don't feel like saying goodbye, because I can still feel the bright blaze behind those beautiful eyes. How about see you later? Let's catch up again, my friend.
I think I'd rather leave it somewhere like that.