A few days ago my old boss called to inform me that a mutual friend of ours had passed away. The term passed away hit me like a pile of bricks when I realized she was using it in reference to Judy. My invisible Judy was gone — impossible. I sat at my desk and just held the phone not being able to put a response together.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a special part of my life was lost forever. As selfish as that sounds, it was all I could think about. So this isn’t a story where true love wins out, or there’ll be great sex. It’s a story of remembrance. I want you to go and grab a drink and read a small tribute to a special woman who entered my life fifteen years ago. At the end raise your glass and send a little prayer her way that she’s in a better place and no longer in pain.





We met through work. She was one of those acquaintances you hope to make when you’re young and trying to make a success of yourself. "She’s expecting you," my boss told me handing over a business card with a name and address. The business name was familiar though I’d never stepped foot in the place. I was ambitious, just not very cool. Judy owned and operated the most successful nightclub in town. You know the kind of place. There’s always a line to get in and some big bouncer guy playing god as to who does.

During the day places like that are just big empty buildings without much character, it’s the people that make them special. Dirty glasses scattered on the small tables and scuffmarks on the dance floor were the only signs of the wild frenzied night. A very gay man with attitude to spare let me in and gave me one of those head to toe looks. His first assumption I had to guess was that I was an insurance salesman or a tourist looking for directions. That’s what he told me later when we got to know each other. You have to remember I’m not hip and the outfit I had on screamed conservative. In my opinion dark blue and crispy white are colors to.

All my boss had told me about the woman I was there to see was Judy had been sick, really sick, gone through treatment and now wanted to do good for other people. She just needed a marketing plan to get it done. "That’s where you come in, kid," my boss said as she shoved me out the door. After that description my over active gray matter promptly drew a picture for me and sent me on my merry way.

I expected fairly young because of her line of work. I expected gaunt because of the illness. And I expected clothes I personally wouldn’t be caught dead in much less know where to purchase after meeting her assistant, Mr. snaps with the snippy attitude. As I sat in my office after the phone call to let me know she had died I remembered that first meeting and every detail of that morning. The first time I laid eyes on this woman has to be one of my favorite memories of her. After my first glimpse I thought my brain was an idiot who didn’t have a very good way with pictures.

Late forties, blonde, faded jeans with a white shirt tucked into them, boots and drop dead gorgeous. The woman had an effect I wasn’t exactly expecting. I read a story once by one of the wonderful fanfiction bards where she penned a line something to the effective that the main character and her friend had taken special sexy walking classes. The first person who popped into my head when I read that line was Judy. She walked toward me with her hand out in greeting and my lungs compressed so much I had trouble breathing. When I was growing up I knew a lot of adults in their late forties but none of them looked like her. God I would have never left my room.

Thirty minutes later I knew she was a divorced mother of three who had a gift for opening successful business ventures and loved going to the movies. She in turn knew more about me than my mother probably does. You ever meet someone who can get you to talk about anything? That was Judy. Because she was so successful I never figured out what she needed me for, whatever she had in mind she could have done alone. I was just there for the ride. It was a mystery but I chalked it up to some unknown force owing me a favor and giving me the opportunity.

I guess now is when I should tell you that when I met Judy, I was wearing a ring on the appropriate finger of my left hand. I was young but I’d found the one person I could see myself with sixty years down the line. The decision to commit was an easy one and I took it seriously. I loved my girl and worked hard to show her that everyday.

There are a lot of you out there getting ready to chuck eggs at the screen cause you’ve figured out what comes next. "Yeah you loved her until some sexy woman comes into the picture. Then it’s, ‘We were too young. I didn’t have enough experience to know what I wanted.’ We’ve heard it all before. Hell, we’ve all been there before, you jerk." Put the eggs back in the refrigerator and save them for tomorrow’s breakfast, that’s not how it went. I felt that way about my girl then and I believe it more so today.

Judy and I shared our first long talk on a variety of subjects that day, and it was then I could see she had mastered the art of flirting. She was outrageous, but she also made sure to ask about the woman who had given me the nice plain band gracing my finger. My answer didn’t stop her from flirting with me, ever, but she never crossed the line. We went on to work together for years and I learned a lot especially about myself because of her friendship. It’s the reason I’m writing this for her today.

Judy you were a true friend who always gave more than was ever expected no matter what you were doing. Because you did, you left your mark on the countless souls you wanted to help, even the ones who didn’t realize they needed help like me. After all our talks, you taught me service above self really isn’t that hard, and the rewards it brings enrich my life beyond the things money can buy. I learned passion means more than has to do with intimacy; it’s also about how I live and what I care about. And on a lighter note I found that Jimmy Carter and I have something in common. I stayed faithful to my girl and the life we have together, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t lusted in my heart.

I wish now I had known our last conversation would be just that, our last conversation. There are so many things I left unsaid, the most important being just how important to me you were. I’m sure if you could, you’d tell me you already knew that and I shouldn’t worry about it, but I do.

After working on a multitude of projects together I achieved what I’d set out to do. Now the corner office with all the nice floor to ceiling windows has my name on the door, and it’s me handing out cards for my staff to go and meet people. Don’t get me wrong; I still have plenty to do before I decide to retire, but I’m the teacher now and I take the responsibility as seriously as my personal life. What I hope for each of my "kids" as they go out to conquer their own worlds everyday is they find a champion named Judy on one of their calls. It’s impossible I know since there will never be another like her, but I can only hope.

That thought came to mind as I gave this wonderful woman’s memory its due. As our times together rolled through my head another favorite came to me. The day I left to take my new job. She wore a suit with the shortest skirt I’d ever seen and pulled all that thick hair into knot at her neck. I’d say she looked like a librarian, but I’ve never met a librarian who looked like that (no knock against librarians but the lady working the desk when I was in college was just scary) in my library visiting experience. We talked about our time together and the fun we’d had, laughing so hard at times we cried. Each of us knowing the other’s deep dark secrets, but even that didn’t change who we felt about each other, it only deepened our friendship. The things we talked about were sacred and never went any further, of that I never feared. I trusted her and shared things with Judy that still baffle me today since it was stuff I had never admitted to anyone let alone said out loud.

She’d gone now so I feel like she’d get a kick out of me telling you how that lunch ended. We had finished our meal, coffee and paid the bill but were reluctant to get up and leave. I think it was because she knew everything that was awaiting me in the coming days and what would become because of it. She feared my new responsibilities would cut into afternoons like the one that was coming to a close and our many phone calls, and she was right. It did and we did drift apart, but never too far in my heart. But that’s not important now.

When I thought to look around me that day I noticed we were pretty much alone since the other patrons had finished in the usual hour or so, and it was then the flirter returned. The outfit she told me she’d worn just for me, her uptight Republican dresser. George Bush’s party could only hope to be so lucky as to attract women like this. I had broken it to her long before what my political beliefs were, and she had let out a long sigh of relief. The last thing she said wasn’t some deep sentiment or great advice for my future, she posed a question. She asked if my girl knew how very lucky she was to have found me. To this day that was one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me. To return the favor I told her she was the piece of chocolate cake forever trying to tempt my libido to come out and play. Dessert is just something I don’t do.

She kissed me before we parted and held my face in her hands. It was the only time she had ever done that and it’s that goodbye I choose to remember now. Not the calls to tell me she was sick again or how work was going. That afternoon Judy was as always funny, engaging, smart, healthy and sexy. It’s the best collection of words I can think to string together that sum her up. Given more time I’m sure there would be a thousand more and it still wouldn’t be enough.

For so many of you who send me feedback for the stories I’ve posted, maybe you should raise your glass twice to the woman who encouraged the bard I had deep inside. After some of the sex scenes I’ve penned and posted I’m sure her response would be that the Republicans definitely don’t want me now. I write because she encouraged everyone around her to live to their full potential, and to have as much fun doing it as possible. To cheat yourself out of that is dying in little bits.

This is one story I won’t sign my mane to for a number of reasons. The main one is that I want the focus not to be about who wrote it, but on who it’s written about. If there’s to be any discussion about these pages or feedback, I want it to be about her.

To the reader, thank you for taking this painful journey with me and I hope you got at least a glimpse of who Judy was and how beautiful a person we all lost. Don’t forget to raise your glass and if you could, send up a small prayer in her honor. If you do have any comments just post them on the pack list, I’ll see them.

Judy, I miss you and I will until it’s my time to leave this life. Your laugh maybe gone but not the joy it left behind. You were a rare individual who deserved more time to shine on this earth. In the end I’m sure you faced death with the same dignity in which you lived your life. And I’m sure that after a little flirting with the powers that be, you’re some place that has a nice umbrella and a bottomless bottle of your favorite spirits.

God speed old friend, you’ll be in my thoughts.


Disclaimer: I didn’t think I would need any for this piece but something tells me I should add one before I sign off.

Life is short so hug the person you love and tell them how much they mean to you. Love is something that is best shown in actions, but it is just as special and just as potent when it is expressed in words.

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