When it came to the word “fuck“, Cindy and I were like two kids.
She’d tell me I was too fuckin nice to people. Fuck um, she’d message me. I’d tell her I didn’t give a fuck, or I couldn’t fucking believe it. She’d write that horses were so fuckin smart.
So when she messaged me that she cancer and when the doctor told her the first thing she said was “fuck” then the doctor said “fuck” and her daughter said it too, of course, I wrote back “oh fuck, Cindy fuck.
Cindy was one of my first customers when I started my business over ten years ago. She’d buy my potholders and pillows anything with a small dog on it. (she had a little poodle that she adored) But we really connected over the red boots I started drawing when I first got my free-motion sewing machine.
She understood the symbolism of red shoes.
Although we never talked specifics, (we never had to, we just knew) we both came out of bad relationships and then found good ones. We both knew what it was like to be voiceless and learn how to stand up and speak up for ourselves.
Cindy was way ahead of me on this one. From the beginning, I admired her refusal to be silenced no matter who she pissed off. Maybe it would have served her better to be a little more nuanced, but she was done with that.
We got to know each other mostly online but eventually met at one of Jon’s book talks.
It so often happens that when I meet someone I knew online in person, it doesn’t really work. But with Cindy, I immediately felt comfortable. She knew about boundaries and our friendship grew slowly over the years. She’d come with her partner and later dearest friend Ron, to a few of our Open Houses, but never stayed long. We had lunch together only once, but not seeing each other in person didn’t hinder our friendship.
Cindy died in May and I’ve been wanting to write about her since then, but I just couldn’t until now. I wanted to write about her because although we didn’t spend a lot of time together, we had a deep connection, a true friendship. An, often wordless, understanding of the other.
As her daughter wrote to me after Cindy died, we were “soul sisters.”
We started talking on the phone after she was diagnosed. We promised we’d see each other before she died, but then the coronavirus hit. The last time I spoke to Cindy we joked about her not being able to die till the pandemic was over and we could visit.
After that Cindy answered my messages less and less till she completely stopped.
Then, one morning in May, Ron called me and said Cindy didn’t have much time left. He asked if I could leave a message on her phone, something cheery.
So for the next four or five days, I did just that. I called her from the pasture telling her what Fate and Fanny and Lulu were doing. I called her from my studio and told her how I think of her every time I look at those little red doll shoes she gave me.
What the fuck Cindy, I sighed, when I ran out of things to talk about.
When I think of all the years Cindy and I knew each we didn’t talk a real lot. But when we did it was always honest, always direct, always real.
About five years ago, when Cindy was in her early sixties, she decided she wanted to learn to ride a horse. She didn’t have a lot of money, but after some lessons, knew she wanted to spend what she did have on owning and stabling a horse.
She got a pony named Mellie (which happens to be the same name as her daughter) and as much trouble as Mellie gave her, Cindy never gave up on her. When Cindy moved in with her daughter she found a stable for the horse and had an agreement that the owner could exercise and use Mellie for trail rides when Cindy couldn’t. And when she knew she was going to die, she made sure that Mellie would always have a home at the stable.
I love thinking about how Cindy took a chance on her dream in the last years of her life. I admire how she sorted out the relationships in her life, which were often troubled.
I will think of Cindy and learn from her ability to get what she wanted from her life, not in a greedy or harmful way, but by knowing what was important to her and for figuring out, in her own unique way, how to make it happen.