Saying Goodbye

by Amber on February 27, 2012

Pin It

“How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.”

This morning, I received news that my fairy godmother, Katy, has passed. She fell ill with cancer around Thanksgiving, so we’ve had time to say our goodbyes. But it doesn’t make today any easier.

If you’ve ever lost someone, you know how I’m feeling. There’s a swelling that takes place–I think it’s your heart breaking open and spilling into the rest of your body. It washes over you quickly, forcefully. Then you attempt to pull yourself together–maybe take a shower. As you place the bar of soap in your hand, it starts to feel foreign. You can’t remember what to do with it. You stare. Why can’t you remember? And then you do recall: the world has turned upside down. You’ve lost someone. Suddenly soap just doesn’t seem very important.

I’ve been going back through my email this morning, reaching back in time for her words to bring me closer to her, to keep her here with me just a little longer.

“Dear Little Fairy Godchild Amber,   Thanks for calling.  It was so nice to hear from you.  I could just feel Rachel listening in to us and smiling.  I could almost feel her little hand messing with my hair.  Gosh I miss that girl.   Love you dearly,  Katy”

I linger. Read the words over and over again, then move on to the next one, and to our photos.

Memories. I’m so happy to have so many of them–35 years’ worth–my entire life. The day I was born, Katy and my god sister, Rachel (at the time she was 1 and a half) came to stay at my house with my older brother and sister while Mom and Dad went to the hospital. She’s been there my whole life.

In the last few years, Katy and I have grown closer. In 2010, we lost my fairy god sister, Rachel. She was 34. She had been one of my dearest friends. Katy and I took comfort in one another after Rachel died. She reminded me of Rachel, and I think I reminded her of the happier times we all had growing up. Losing them both in such a short amount of time makes this that much harder.

With Katy, I feel blessed to have had the chance to say goodbye. I wrote her one last letter a few weeks ago:

My Dear Fairy Godmother!

The young woman sobbed. Life had been unfair to her. As tears streamed down her face, she felt a sudden warm glow descending like a brilliant star falling from heaven. As she wiped her eyes, the glowing light drew nearer, getting larger as it approached. Its pulsing light in a flash transformed into a woman.

“Now stop your crying, dear,” said the woman in a soothing, jolly voice.

“Who are you?” asked the young woman.

“Why, I’m your fairy godmother!” she exclaimed. And with the wave of her magic wand, she solved all the young woman’s problems, turning her tattered dress into a beautiful gown and an ordinary pumpkin into a magnificent coach.

It was some time in the 1980s, and I was a little girl, watching with awe on the big screen at the Savanna Times Theater.

“Is that what a godmother is?!” I cheered, directing the question at my mom.

“Yes!” Mom whispered, nodding, as she brought her finger to her lips to quiet me. Her face showed a sense of happy relief at having found a passable answer for her curious daughter.

I wiggled and bounced in my seat. I was mesmerized, elated, and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I had a fairy godmother! And she was magical!

When the movie ended, I was filled with questions for Mom. I had long been confused by the fact that I had two families. My brother and sister had godparents, but they lived in different towns, and we barely saw them. They almost didn’t count.

But me? My god family lived only a few blocks away and they loved me like their own. I wasn’t sure what a godparent was. I thought perhaps I was adopted. After all, I had blond hair and green eyes like my god sisters, while Aaron and Amy had brown hair and brown eyes like Mom and Dad. My parents assured me I wasn’t adopted, so I never really understood what having a second set of parents meant.

Until I watched Cinderella. I remember rushing up to you, Katy, at church, delighted to tell you I “knew.” The secret had been revealed, and I was anxious to see your magic wand. Because you always encouraged my sense of imagination, you played right along with the storyline. And it stuck.

From that point forward, my god family became my “Fairy God Family.” And even now that I’m older and have learned the truth about magic wands, the majestic nature of our relationship remains as strong as ever.

Every time I’m around my Fairy God Family, I have always felt blessed! I have always felt proud to be associated with you and call you ‘family.’

I did some research about the history of godparents. In Spanish, the word for godmother is “comadre,” meaning “co-mother.” This is exactly what I have in you, Katy. As a little girl, if I fell down, you picked me up. You nurtured my love of words and taught me to write cursive in your 2nd grade class. You disciplined me when I was bossy. You hugged me when I cried.

More recently, when we lost the sunshine, Rachel, I found comfort in being close to you. It made me feel closer to her to be near you. Your hands are her hands. Your smile is her smile. Your laugh is her laugh. Even the smell of your house is the smell I associate with Rachel. And it’s comforting. I like to think I have a little of that joy inside of me, too, passed along to me over the years from my loving Fairy Godmother and Fairy God Sisters.

You and my entire Fairy God Family have always been my sources of news. In ancient English, the word for godparent emerged from the word “godsib,” or “god-sibling” which translates to the modern “gossip,” and by extension the word for “godparent” indicates friendship.

I remember you sending me and Rachel a subscription to the Savanna Times Journal while we lived in Denmark. We loved getting the hometown gossip of who won the latest basketball game or made the honor roll. As we grew older and went to college, we relied on all the news of home to come from you or Carmen, who always kept us in the loop. Who was married? Where were old friends working? You and Carmen always knew!

Now that I’m living in California, all my closest friends know that I have a Fairy God Family, and how honored I am to be part of such a joyful, loving circle. I keep pictures of me and Rachel, together, by my desk to remind myself daily to live my own life in that joyful space as much as I can. Sometimes I fail, but I sure do try to be the person you all taught me to be.

When they heard you were diagnosed with cancer, my friends at Women’s Empowerment (where I used to work) gathered together to make me a magic wand. It’s wonderfully cheerful with a bright, yellow star and a jingle bell. It sits on my desk and reminds me of you every day.

Thank you for the magic you have given me. I am eternally grateful to my mom and dad for choosing you and Bill as my Fairy Godparents. They could not have made a better choice. Thank you for embracing that role and nurturing me for these 35 years. When I think of “home,” I think of you and my Fairy God Family, and I feel loved. I’m sending some of that love right back to you! Jan promised to give you a hug from me today.

I love you!

The young woman’s tears had turned to joy. She stepped into the horse-drawn carriage that shimmered with glitter and gold. As the horses started to gallop, she leaned her head through the window.

“Thank you! Thank you, Fairy Godmother!” she exclaimed as she waved, blowing kisses in the air.

Her Fairy Godmother smiled and laughed, as she waved her magic wand.

 

With love & hugs,

Your Fairy Godchild, Amber

Pin It

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Aimee February 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

Amber, what a beautiful, wonderful, heartfelt post – and how lucky and special you were to have such a magical fairy godmother – and how lucky and special she was to have you! Thinking of you and sending lots of love and hugs. XO

Reply

admin February 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

Many thanks for your kind words, Aimee! Your hugs and friendship mean a lot today–and always.

Reply

Kristen February 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

This has me in tears… what a blessing your relationship was to each other. Thanks for giving us a glimpse. I hope your heart heals soon, and your soul is overflowing with love and good memories.

Reply

admin February 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thank you, Kristen. I’m so grateful for the good memories!

Reply

Renee February 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

What a beautiful post and a wonderful tribute. You really are the luckiest girl to have your very own fairy god family! May those special memories act like a hug for you now and every time you recall them. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Reply

admin February 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Thank you, Renee. I’m happy that so many others get to read Katy’s story.

Reply

Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator February 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Sweet Amber. Thank you for sharing your love with the world. It makes us all better. Sending you lots of love today and in the coming days.

Reply

admin February 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Thank you, Stephanie. I really appreciate your warm words and friendship!

Reply

Diana February 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Oh Amber, I’m SO sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman. Praying for you in this difficult time.

Reply

admin February 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thank you, Diana. I appreciate your warm thoughts. I feel lucky to have good friends and strong family.

Reply

JM February 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Amber, my deepest sympathies for your loss. What a special relationship you have with your Fairy Godmother and God Sister, and I believe their magic lives on within and through you. It’s clear that they helped contribute to the sparkling person you are today, and for that, I’m grateful to them too. Sending love your way.

Reply

admin February 28, 2012 at 9:23 am

Thanks so much, JM! I’m glad you used the word “sparkling.” That really fits my Fairy God Family! :)

Reply

Betsy Stone February 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Losing anyone you love is always too soon. It doesn’t matter how old they are, or how long you knew them. Suddenly that time with them is just too damned short. I hope you will have the blessing of feeling her presence in your life, as I have felt after losing my mother in 1999. It was very strange. I was with her at the moment she passed away from lung cancer, and my primary emotion was exhaustion. Then three days later I awoke to an image of her as she used to look, sitting at our kitchen table, and I just knew she was whole and still with me. I felt totally and utterly at peace. I hope you will find that peace. All my love to you, my friend. – Betsy

Reply

admin February 28, 2012 at 9:26 am

Betsy, thank you for your kind words. What an amazing story about your mom’s presence. I’ve been lucky to have many dreams about Rachel that have felt very real. I hope I get to see Katy again through dreams, too. It’s amazing how good that feels–like being right next to them again–if only for a moment.

Reply

Natia February 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Amber,
I am so sorry to hear about Mrs. Wright. I didn’t have her for a teacher, but the times I did get to interact with her, she always made me feel special and loved. Everything you have described of her is how I had remembered her, only I didn’t know her on a personal level like you did. Earlier today, I felt sad and started to self pity myself for personal reasons. This beautiful tribute reminded me that life is too short to feel angry and bitter, and there are more important things in life then letting negativity take over your mind and body. I try to stay strong and positive, but I’m not perfect, and bad days sometimes cloud my mind. Your blog and work have helped me change my outlook on life in such a positive way. I’m still a “work in progress”, but you are one of the few people I look up to and admire when I need a little positive guidance. Your commitment with your organization and with helping people taught me that I, too, can make a positive difference and help in the best way that I can.
Mrs. Wright was an amazing woman and teacher and mother. You are truly blessed that you had a beautiful woman to guide you and love you.

Reply

admin February 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

Natia, Thank you for sharing your feelings so openly. I’m honored. You always carried that spark of joy and creativity, too! I’m thankful for the Internet for connecting us, because your knowledge has been such a big boost to our nonprofit work. These projects can’t exist without the kindness of people like you. I told Katy about the project before she got cancer. She was so excited and encouraging! Both the Wright and the Stott families are teachers, so I think she was proud to see this carrying through. Thanks for being part of this, and for your heartwarming words about Katy–Mrs. Wright. It means so much to read them! Thank you.

Reply

Pam Darrow February 28, 2012 at 7:53 am

Dear Amber,

What a wonderful tribute to Katy and the Wright family. I sit here reading this with tears rolling down my face thinking we just went through this with the family not long ago. As I read this my 92 year old Aunt is also dying, from old age, but she was my “Mother” for 63 years stepping in when my mother passed in 1974. Your words are a copy of how I feel for her.

Thank you for such a beautiful story and God Bless you too!

Reply

admin February 28, 2012 at 9:33 am

Pam, I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. The women in our lives are so important–and so irreplaceable. I’m grateful for having been blessed to have Katy and Rachel in my life. I sure wish it had been longer! May your own happy memories with your aunt bring you comfort during this difficult time. Thinking of you!

Reply

The Rowdy Chowgirl March 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Amber, I’m so sorry for your loss. Katy was obviously a wonderful person–that is so clear throughout your loving tribute to her.

Reply

Ani (@afotogirl) March 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm

I just lost my auntie suddenly in December and wrote a few posts about it also. She was like a second mother to my sisters and I. Her loss has left us very raw … still. Reading your loving tribute to your Fairy Godmother had me in tears as my heartbreak for your loss mingled with my own. May your grief dissipate enough so you can replace the pain with the happy memories you most certainly have in your heart.

One day at a time Amber.

I look forward to meeting you at the writing workshop at Liz’ tomorrow.

Reply

admin March 3, 2012 at 7:18 am

I’m sorry to hear about your auntie. Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to meeting you, too. The women in our lives are so important.

Reply

Kim March 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Amber,
What a beautiful tribute to Katy. I happen to see Diann Crabtree today and she told me about your wonderful letter. I believe that God needed another angel. God bless.

Kim Kovar

Reply

the wicked noodle March 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

I just want to reach through this computer and give you a huge hug!!! I’m so sorry for your loss. A friend of mine just lost her mother and just last night she said to me, “It’s worse that you think it will be”. That has really stuck with me because just the thought of losing my mother paralyzes me, as I’m sure it did her. I can’t imagine it could be worse than I imagine.

Sending you big hugs and love!

Reply

admin March 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s mother. I’m sure your friend is grateful for you right now! Our girlfriends and sisters all mean so much in times like this!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: