A dear friend passed away suddenly this weekend and upon hearing the news today I was taken way back.
“David and I would like to invite Zoë to the circus…”
“…to the movies.”
“…to go to Santa Cruz.”
“…to the zoo.”
“…a soccer game.”
and on and on.
Barbara was dear, kind woman, a single mom of a boy named David, who happened to be the same age as my Zoë. David was a boisterous kid, a kid with a lot of quirks but a good kid with an amazing mom. Barbara recognized that Zoë and David had a special connection and with that connection David was a little less quirky and a lot more calm and so every other Sunday or so Barbara would reach out to me to arrange a playdate for our kids. Zoë and David together had many amazing adventures and Barbara and I became friends. Actually Barbara was more of a mentor to me. Always a teacher at heart, she came alongside of me and offered calm, quiet wisdom and encouragement without judgment. She always thanked me for sharing my daughter with her and her son but I couldn’t help but think that it was me who should be thanking her. Many of the adventures she would make happen for her son and my daughter were opportunities that I just could not make happen for my little girl at that time. But more importantly I had to thank her for being the kind of friend that she was then and that she was through the years to me…to Zoë.
For me, she was a fountain of encouragement, advice, support and love always offered with no judgment and a lot of humor. She was one of the first people to reach out to Bill and me with congratulations when we made public our decision to adopt our son. She was there when the adoption was finalized, one of the few. Before there was ever a TeamDaniel she was already one of his biggest cheerleaders. As the mother of a child with special needs and as a teacher, she was always willing to offer her expertise and experience as we began to learn the mass confusion that is Special Education and IEPs.
As our children grew up and, as childhood friends sometimes do, grew apart with different interests and aspirations, she remained in touch with Zoë. Over the years, since Zoë went away to college and other adventures Barbara continued to keep in touch keeping up with what was going on in my daughter’s life. Barbara genuinely cared for my little girl as she fell in love with her years ago and she kept up with her through social media always asking questions, sometimes offering bits of wisdom and never expressing judgment or disappointment.
Time and distance has offered little opportunity for Barbara and I to visit face to face save for the occasional wedding or funeral but we too kept up through Facebook and through this blog. She remained always a friend, a mentor, a person I knew I could rely on for advice, support and encouragement. Our world views, our politics and even our faith may have differed as we have grown older but I knew she was the kind of friend who loved and respected me enough to agree to disagree and still remain a dear, true friend…the kind of friend who would literally drop everything and be willing to expose herself to an incredibly infectious, deadly infection like when Jodie and I found ourselves desperately ill in a hospital miles and miles from the Big Top but just down the road from her own home. I begged her not to come but that did not stop her from calling often and praying even more than that for us both.
A very special, treasured friend. Now gone.
Reading the posts on her Facebook timeline, I’m not surprised to see that I am not the only one who has been touched by this woman. So many, so very many have been fortunate beneficiaries of her love, her honesty, her wisdom, her kindness, her friendship. How fortunate we all are! How thankful I am to be just one of many beneficiaries of the love that was Barbara Siler.
Godspeed my dear friend, I can only hope to see you on the other side.