Dear Shelley,
     How do I start? You weren’t supposed to walk out of our lives, just like that. You’re so full of life and fire and love and ideas and self-sufficiency. I miss you.
     I miss your mischievous smile and hearty laugh. I miss your generously loving and vulnerably tender heart. I miss your presence in my kids’ lives. I miss seeing & being inspired by the connection between you & your kids. I miss just being able to walk down the street for some qt with my dear friend. I miss having another Asian American woman in my current life who just gets it, what it’s like in its entirety, the particular flavors of the ups & downs in this life we share. I miss your honesty & f-bombs. I miss helping you in your creative remodeling projects. I don’t yet miss my kids telling me how much better they like your cooking than mine (because they still do it), but I will soon enough.
I wish it wasn’t so very many days before any of us knew you were missing.
     I wish I’d sensed your distress that night, so I could have come out to the highway to keep you company so you wouldn’t have been alone, so you’d still be with us now, laughing at the absurdities of the stupid accident.
     I wish I was there to pull you back up when you slipped, wrap you in a big fluffy blanket, & take you back home to dry off & warm up in front of your wood stove.

     I’m sorry I didn’t know to help you, right when you needed it most.
     I am so grateful we became friends, and that our kids developed such a close connection that in sharing them, our two households almost felt like one – to us as much as to them. You were like a second, cooler mom to all my kids.
     I’ll always cherish spending this Thanksgiving with our families together at your house.
     Thank you for saving me when my car broke down or my oven didn’t work or my heart was just so broken I didn’t know what to do. Your compassionate ear & equally passionate words of wisdom always clarified my thoughts when they were muddy & bolstered my strength when I felt it failing.
     Thank you for opening your heart to me when I knew you were hurting & not wanting anyone to see. You weren’t a wreck, like you feared you were: you were instead a beautifully loving person who suffered deeply because of how much you cared, but who also helped to ease so much other suffering through the same caring.
     You were hysterically funny because you saw through people & weren’t afraid to say so, but you also saw through to their better selves & cheered them on in that direction.
     What do you want us to do with your Great American Novel? I believe the story is rich & compelling & needs telling, but how do we do that without you?
     We’re on our own now, aren’t we? With the fond memories of you to carry with us in our hearts. Thank you for giving us so many. We love you, Shelley. I love you.
     Your friend & heart-sister always,