Laura H. Elliott

Valdosta, GA

This morning, as I put on my jacket, I knew what my story would be. More of an over-sized shirt than a jacket, it is salmon colored with flat mother of pearl buttons running up the front. The cloth is a light weight linen and large, black, stick-figured giraffes and porcupines are sketched across the material. I bought this while on an office “retreat” with several business colleagues. I don’t remember the exact details, but as I playback the day in my mind I see myself in the store surrounded by mannequins and racks of clothes. And there is Barb, competing with me to find this shirt in the correct size and hustling to the dressing room. Since we worked in the same office, only one of us would be purchasing the shirt and I was the one who had the shirt in my bag at the end of the shopping spree. Barb didn’t begrudge me for my purchase but always had something to say on the days I “wore her shirt” to work.

Less than two years ago Barb died of lung cancer – she was diagnosed, took a leave from her job and was dead in a matter of months. I will never get over the swiftness of the decline, the suddenness of her absence. My once vibrant friend, about whom I could tell many stories, was no more. She was with me today, however. In a meeting today, as we were reviewing dry budget figures and line items, someone mentioned her name and, maybe because I had been thinking about her earlier – the quick reference brought the sting of tears to my eyes.

I miss my friend and am grateful that I have “our” shirt as a reminder of her presence in my life.

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