The days keep going by. I don’t get it. It’s been 4 weeks since she left us. Left me. How hasn’t the world stopped yet?
Italy was just what I thought it would be: a distraction. A beautiful, amazing one that she would have loved. I slept in, got some sun, and ate delicious food. Again, she would have loooooved it. She and I are always so easy when we travel. All we wanna do is sleep and eat and chat and be lazy together, really. Some might say we don’t take full advantage of the places we’ve been, but…that’s just who we are. I mean, when you see beauty in everywhere you are, then Japan or Germany or Italy and Fort Wayne, Indiana aren’t so different. That’s us. We could go to Walmart and find the same amount of inspiration as France. That might be a tad exaggeration, but you get my drift. Denise and I see the big things and the small things the same, of all equal importance, and that’s that.
It’s been 2 months since she left for Bali. 2 months since we spent everyday together. Did you know I left Matilda Jane to work with her? So all of 2015, up until May 22nd, was spent with her. Each day, we’d text about the gym or snoozing a little longer. We’d figure out what we’d eat for the day together. We’d be in her car all the time, running errands, buying furniture for her house, picking up the kids from school. And on the very best occasion we’d be designing some dynamic duds for The Good Ones. These activities were all part of my new ‘job’. I’m so thankful I’ve had this year with her. We’ve had 7 years, but this year…it was just different. She was different.
I watched her change so many times over the years. When she welcomed me to design with her in 2010, I saw her change and share her creative role for the first time…ever. When we decided to get partners and go through the sale of MJC in 2012, I saw her change, suddenly willing to get help in order to “make the love of Matilda Jane explode”. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, I saw her change as the priorities in her life shifted from working 24/7 to spending every ounce of her time with those she loved. When she was told she was in remission on November 25th 2013, I saw her change and become even more gracious and giving, especially of her time and of her talent. When she quit MJC in 2014, I saw her wandering, looking for the next step, the next challenge, the next change.
And in 2015, I saw just her. Denise being Denise. No need to always be doing, or always be going, she just got to be herself, without having the world depend on her. Yes, she was bored. Yes, WE got bored. But that was nice. Being boring and talking and reminiscing. And then the painting began. Oh man, we probably spent 50+ hours in May just painting canvases and watching movies. Of course she’s a better artist than me, but it’s funny, this new Denise encouraged me so much more than she picked on me. I felt like I was giving her the perfect opportunity to poke fun, but she never did. It was one of the biggest changes to me because she never gave up an opportunity to get a rise out of me. But it’s like she didn’t even want to waste time on it anymore. She just wanted to be sweet and loving and share one of her favorite things with me (painting) and that was all that mattered.
When I saw her that last Saturday with Kayla, I was in an extra goofy mood. Just seeing her made me giddy and I was making such terrible jokes (she loves bad, sometimes inappropriate humor–ha, so do I!) and she laughed and smiled and just looked at me. That look that always makes you feel special, that she not only likes you, but she loves you too. It was pretty perfect. I also loved that I went with Kayla. Kayla and I have the weirdest history, but the past 3 years have been this crazy blossoming friendship that I don’t know what I’d do without. It just makes sense that we’d be together, in this last moment with her. Denise was so proud of Kayla and I becoming so close. You could tell it just made her heart happy. And on that Saturday I knew it was giving her a smile to see us once again together.
We spent 2 hours there. 2 wonderful hours with our wonderful friend. Then we left and I cried the moment I stepped out of the hospital, unable to breathe.
I waited to be the last one to hug her when we left. I leaned over her bed and hugged her tight, she kissed me on the cheek and said “I love you, love bug.” I didn’t know it then, but those were the last words she would ever say to me.
Soon I’ll be writing about TGO. But for now, I’m thankful The Good Ones have allowed me to use this blog as a diary of sorts. Probably a little too intimate, and probably a little too transparent for most clothing companies, but…that’s what Denise liked best. To keep it real. To be herself first. To be open and honest and to never pretend. And she knows I was never good at pretending.