As I was finishing up my post for last Saturday's Hoedown, I received one of those life-changing phone calls, the kind you hope never to hear or make. It was from the husband of my cherished friend Amy and he was calling to tell me that she had died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday night from a massive heart attack and stroke. Devastated doesn't even come close to describing how I felt and still feel. It's been a difficult week and I've taken refuge in working in the garden, since gardening is what brought us together initially. (The picture above is of one of Amy's favorites; she couldn't pass a blooming Rangoon Creeper without stopping for a whiff of its fragrance.)
I first met Amy in the 'Gardening Chat' folder on AOL's message boards: we each posted about the challenges of gardening in the Houston area and began to converse both on the boards and then in e-mails about our gardening experiences. I have Amy to thank for my being the gardener that I am today: on my first visit to her glorious gardens, I was delighted and exhilarated by not only the wide variety of plants she was growing, but the personal style and creativity she was able to express in her suburban backyard. As we walked through the garden, and Amy talked about the plans and dreams she had for its future, she sparked my own imagination and creativity and emboldened me to look for the possibilities in my garden. Ten years later, our gardens and our friendship have grown far beyond what we imagined they could be. We've shared plants and confidences, seeds and histories, joys and sorrows ... our lives have connected and intertwined countless times over.
It's a rare and wonderful thing to find someone who is not just a dear friend, but a kindred spirit, and I know that we both felt blessed that our journey of friendship led us to such a place. Not a day will go by that I won't miss Amy's physical presence in my life and I will grieve that loss for a long time to come. But this is not the first such loss I've endured and I have learned that while death ends a life, it doesn't have the power to end a relationship. Throughout this long and emotional week, I've already felt Amy beside me in spirit, both in and out of the garden. Our lives will continue to connect and intertwine and I will forever be grateful for all that she has been and always will be to me.