I lost someone dear to me two weeks ago today, it was sudden and unexpected. The shock still has me a little paralyzed. The world just doesn’t feel as funny anymore. All the things that reminded me of her that brought laughter, a smile, bring sorrow. It’s sorrow in my loss of her. Sorry that I won’t hear her witty play on words, sorry I won’t hear her say “oh Lori” with her heavy British accent.
I took the first flight home on hearing of her passing. There was no question I had to be there. I had to be there for her son, be there for my sister, be there for her friends, be there for myself. I’ve lost classmates, friends that I still think of to this day. This loss hit closest to home. It is a wake up call, a realization of how delicate life is. She was an adopted mom, she always said my sister and I were the daughters she never had.
Her name was Sandra. She was born about 17 miles northwest of London near the end of World War II. She was the second of three kids, the only girl. She had an early knack for baking as a child that led to professional culinary training with The Royal Air Force (RAF). After her tour with the Air force, she headed to America where she would live the rest of her days.
She took me under her wing in my early twenties. She employed me, my sister, and best friend during college. She owned a quaint little British tea room in Ormond Beach, Florida. She filled it with all the fresh baked delicacies, chocolates, and bone china any homesick British expat could hope for to fill the void of living far from home. I can still recall the smell of her fresh baked scones at the start of each working day. I would walk in to a cup of tea, one of the “reject” scones, and some silly banter waiting for me.
She taught me to cook, drink proper tea as she called it, and be a strong, independent woman. She always pushed me to find my own way in life, despite what was expected of any young woman. She told me it was ok to never marry, never have kids. She was a welcomed stern voice in my life that pushed me harder than anyone. I wanted to quit nursing school halfway through. If it wasn’t for her, I might have.
She lived fully, traveled far, was well read, full of humor, and above all, had a huge heart. She visited me twice when I lived in San Francisco and always joked that it was time I move back there so she could visit again. All my favorite British shows were at her recommendation. Every corner of the world I visited, I sent her photos.
I have spent the last two weeks talking with friends, family, and clients of Sandra. Every conversation began heavy with me sometimes bearing the news of her passing, but ended with a funny story or memory of her. Her love of animals, all things British, her son, family, friends, and adopted girls reached far. Anyone who came to know her grew to love her.
Since her passing, my sister and I have had several reminders that she will always be there, in our thoughts and hearts. When I open a bottle of Berringer, drink my favorite tea (I travel with it), bake tasty scones from Sandra’s recipe, hear the sounds of Andrea Bocelli or Sarah Brightman, take a plie in ballet class, or watch the new season of Downton Abbey, I will think of her. I guess this is the comfort we have in the loss of a loved one. They will live on forever in our memories, in our hearts. They will be our strength on the days we feel weak. They will continue to cheer us on in our triumphs. RIP dearest Sandra. Daughter, sister, mother, adopted mother, friend ❤