I lost the soul sister I always wished for. Her funeral was last Wednesday. It was a very dark day for me. I tell myself that the darkness will lift because that is what Barbara would tell me.
The first time our eyes met was at a woman’s board meeting. I noticed her smiling face, long blonde hair, and the candy pink sweater she was wearing. She noticed me because I was the new stranger on the board. I was in my forties and had just moved from Honolulu to Chicago.
After the meeting, she approached me and we talked for a short time. For twenty years, I did not see her again because I dropped off the board due to extensive traveling. She lived in the suburbs and in Florida. I lived in the city and California.
Twenty years later she and her husband moved to California and, from that day forward, we spoke every day. We saw one another often.
Over one year ago we had our last phone call but we never lost contact. I texted her almost daily for over one year and when she could she texted back.
Barbara and her husband chose not to disclose her illness to anyone other than their family. I have a strong feeling her illness prevented her from talking because she loved to talk on the phone. She was interested in all her friend’s happenings and never missed a beat in keeping up with their lives. Every day she called her daughters and her grandchildren too.
A DEDICATED FRIEND
She was a dedicated friend; the type of woman you were lucky to have in your life. Her priorities never veered off track. She was a woman of substance, a role model mother, wife, grandmother, and girlfriend. Barbara was a first-rate version of herself, not a second-rate version of someone else. She was beyond principled. My friend was humble, she had inner strength, she was radiant, always projecting her authentic self.
She grew up in a small town, Aurora, Illinois. Barbara was the only Jewish girl in her class and was voted Prom Queen. She was religious, she celebrated Shabbat every Friday night but made it holy the rest of her week. Barbara would never ride in a car after sundown on Shabbat.
The Prom was on a Friday night. Shabbat. The yearly ritual was for the Prom Queen and her court to ride in cars. For Barbara…they walked.
Barbara believed in her religion and God. I don’t think she feared death but I am sure she did not want to leave her husband, family, friends, and her beloved pooch, Lola. I know she fought to survive. She fancied life.
I have dear friends but Barbara will always stand out among them. I know her other close friends feel as I do. There will never be another Barbara.
OUR TEXT CONVERSATIONS
To learn her true essence here are a few of our text messages. Looking back and rereading them is so painful. There are no words. For over one and one-half years, we stayed in contact through constant texting.
Honey: I miss our in-person friendship
Barbara: Friendships don’t go away
Honey: I know. That is the reason I continue to let you know how much your friendship means to me.
Barbara: You don’t need to tell me. I know.
Honey: This is my hope for you. That each day forward is better than the last.
Barbara: Thank you for your beautiful message. Please let me be a part of your life by texting me what you are doing. Talking is difficult but I look forward to hearing about your exciting life through your texts. What are your plans for today? Where did you have dinner last night? I only wish I was sitting next to you at a table, chatting and laughing! Love you my sweet, caring friend.
Honey: Thank you for answering me. Sending love to you and a bouquet of flowers.
OUR TREASURED LAST CONVERSATIONS
I dated some of the last ones.
Honey: Are you recovering?
Barbara: Thinking about you. Hope you are having a great day. What r u doing? I am working on getting stronger. Takes time, I know.
Honey: You just made my day and week and month and year! Being the optimist I take your message as a positive!?!
Barbara: Your messages reach women around the world giving them hope, encouragement, and sound advice. You have changed so many lives. That should put a smile on your face every day forever. I want to thank you for telling your readers about our special and loving relationship. I was so happy that you and I connected at that board meeting so many years ago. Palm Springs was fun for me because you were there. What would I have done without you? Thank you my dear, loving , caring beautiful girlfriend. All my love, always.
Honey: Sending love from my heart to yours. I feel so in the dark. It has been over a year and I still have no idea about your health situation.
Barbara: It was a very tiring day. 1 therapist in the morning and another soon after. Marci ( her daughter) is here with me. I like the color of your hair!
Honey: Thank God there are therapists! Right? Sorry you are tired. You have been through too much… I wish I could come and be with you and help you. I would dress up like Florence Nightingale and we would laugh together. Nothing much is new. I am content. I miss you very much. But I know you are a text away. Thank God. Sleep tight .
Honey: I have not heard from you????????? I miss u!!!!!!!!
Honey: I am so worried about you. Please send me a message.
The message did not come in a text. It came in a phone call.
AN UNEXPECTED CALL
And, then sweet reader, I received an unexpected phone call from Barbara’s son. I was in a busy and loud restaurant. I left the table. The conversation went over my head and I hate myself for not understanding what the call meant. It was a goodbye. I thought it was hope. I cannot remember all the words because of the noise.
Hi, I am calling for my mom. She wants you to know how much she loves you. I replied how happy I was to hear from him and to tell Barbara I love her too. The conversation was at least five minutes long and very loving but I cannot remember all that was said. It just never dawned on me that this was the end. I was so dumb.
Returning back to the table, I was excited to tell my Ultimate Concierge and friends that I heard from Barbara’s son. I am going to see him over the weekend, I told them, and he will tell me.
MY LAST TEXT TO BARBARA BEFORE SHE DIED
Honey: I was overjoyed to speak to your son. Thank you. Please stay in touch as best you can. Sending love…
Honey: How’s my girlfriend?
Miss hearing from you tooo much.
Then I learned the news. My girlfriend Barbara Y. Rosenfield had passed away.
You were the soul sister I never had. I will treasure your value and miss our friendship. Your words of wisdom, your religious strength, your kindness and laughter, and goodness will resonate within me. I will try and live up to you. You are a woman of valor. Rest in peace. Sweet dreams. God will bless you. I have no doubt.