RIP, Carolyn B.

Dear friends,

I learned Monday night that one of my dearest friends just lost her mother.

You might have guessed by now that I’m not fully recovered from losing my own mother, so my heart goes out to my friend Janet. (Honestly, I think you never “fully recover” from losing your mother. The loss is too great and I know I will feel it until the end of my days.)

Janet is one of the Js — four women I’ve been friends with since grade school. In many ways, my friends’ mothers were like surrogate mothers to me. Each of them, in their unique ways, served as important role models and taught me valuable lessons.

I always adored Carolyn, but I grew in my appreciation for her as I matured. In my youth, I appreciated her because her home was always open and Joan-Marie was always welcome.  As an adult, I grew to appreciate her opinions and sensibilities as a mother, grandmother and woman of the world.

Carolyn was well-read and her opinions about world affairs were informed. She had a dry sense of humor and, politically, we were often of the same mind and always of the same party. (We loved to sneak away from everybody else and talk Democratic politics.) Carolyn divorced late in life and — after decades of being a stay-at-home mother — she dusted herself off and entered the workforce. I admired her tenacity and resilience to not only endure, but to thrive in the midst of a difficult transition.

Long before I started blogging, I authored an annual Christmas newsletter that lampooned the content typical to most family newsletters. Carolyn was my biggest fan and a loyal reader, going so far as to write the only fan letter I ever received.  I always had the sense Carolyn was rooting for me from afar.

I’ll be heading home this evening so I can attend Carolyn’s funeral tomorrow. When my mother died, the Js rallied around me and were a much-needed and treasured source of support. I wouldn’t think of not doing the same for my friend Janet.

No one teaches us how to lose our mother, and yet it is one of life’s most difficult and sorrowful lessons. For me, just hearing that somebody else thought my mother was special meant the world to me. Carolyn was special to the Js and we’ll all be there to make sure Janet knows.

With gratitude {for the women who shaped me — the Js — and the mothers who shaped us — Carolyn, Pat, Betty, Sue and Colleen},

Joan, who thinks the best initial of all is J

Carolyn B. loved to sew matching outfits for the Js’ daughters. Kate is the little munchkin on the left, circa 1993.

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Comments

  1. Juanita Clark says:

    When George and Janet were babies Carolyn and I met several mornings a week with some other mothers and had coffee. I learned to appreciate and value the time spent with her.
    I was saddened to learn of her passing and thankful that you are going to support Janet and the family.

  2. Grieving is important work and who better to have by your side than your oldest dearest friends to help find a way through those first most awful early days? Here’s hoping for moments of unexpected shared laughter among the tears…

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. Janet Foster says:

    ok made me cry!!!! I loved this and I am going to try and print it. thank you so much for all your thoughts and coming and card, I love you!!! J Janet Mom loved you so much!!!! see you tomorrow!!!!

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