Little did I know that her letter would catch me completely by surprise with news I had never expected to hear.
Jennifer Guberman and I met on a Delta Flight from Orlando back in June 2005 as she pounces two seats from me with the line “it’s really crowded back there, do you mind if I sit next to you?” To which I replied, “No, be my guest.”
That simple greeting was the beginning of a wonderful friendship which came to a hault much too soon. You see, it was that letter I received that evening, all alone in the office, when I found out that Jennifer had died of a freak accident in her home in Worcester, Massachusetts a few months before.
Now you know many of us have friends all around the world and rarely do we have contact info to their immediately families. When we send emails or trade phone calls on cell phones, all of us being so busy, we realize when the person’s life is less crazed, they’ll eventually get back to us. Never do we wonder if anything dramatic has happened.
And usually, if it has, they will drop you a short note and tell you what’s going on and you take it from there.
But this letter was so totally unexpected because I had been wondering why Jen hadn’t called me around the holidays, or responded to my half dozen emails. It wasn’t like her.
So here comes this letter from her Mom, which I must say, I am so grateful for otherwise I would have gone on wondering what had happened.
It turned out Jen died suddenly in her home several months before and I never knew it. And, really, how could I possible have known. Her parents had finally gotten her mail forwarded to them and there they found my Christmas card and gift to her. And thus, her Mom responded.
You know, you really are never ready to hear someone has died. You just aren’t. I don’t care if you knew them less than 3 years or your entire life. You don’t wake up in the morning expecting to hear that kind of news.
So here I was in the office, all alone, and just burst out in tears. Yes, I’m a sensitive soul, otherwise I couldn’t do what I do. But this one was a shocker. I sat back, trying to wipe away the tears which were not subsiding and I just couldn’t comprehend this could be true.
I don’t think I believe it yet anyway. It’s just beyond me, first how all those months could have gone by and Jen and I to have not spoken either by phone or in print. And also, that I didn’t know when it happened, couldn’t have known, and her family couldn’t have done anything more than they did to alert a whole host of personal acquaintances which moved somewhere between best of friends to business colleagues.
Jen and I worked together toward building the Foundation for Grieving Children. She listen to me tell my story on that plane that night and she encouraged me all the way. She offered her assistance in many ways and delivered on everything she promised.
When we were updating our database of services for grieving children, she took the ball and ran with it. She even got others involved (her friends Anna and Josh) and months and months later, the project was all typed in excel, ready for the next step.
When I didn’t know how to research a project in the most expeditious way, I could always call on Jen, my resident librarian and PR person and she’d always give me great advice.
But mostly, you need to know that she was one of the most generous people I’ve ever know. She was there for me in the beginning when I was rebuilding my life after my divorce. She believed in my dreams and visions. She used her money many times to get supplies and her time to make it all come together.
I’ll always remember how she asked how I was getting into Manhattan from JFK Airport the night we landed at nearly midnight. She decided I was coming along with her as the carservice was waiting, and after having dropped her off first near Lexington and 88th where she lived, she said to the driver “take her wherever she needs to go.” She made me feel like a queen.
About a month later we spent Fourth of July together on the East River Promenade watching the Macy’s Fireworks. It was so much fun. Or the time I met her at the doctor’s office to get her home safely after a procedure. Or, when she was moving to Florida and I helped her clean out the apartment as her beloved dog, Rooster, would run around and jump on the bags. He was so funny and how she loved him.
Or when she came back to visit for business and stayed with me at my home. We had such fun. Or when I just needed an ‘ear’ and Jen was always there to tell me it would all come together.
There are people who are planted in our lives for only a short season. Jen was that angel for me. She and I had a very short time together here, but we spoke of God and His works on this earth many, many times. We loved our discussions about faith and how it was working in our lives.
Many times since I learned of her death, I sit quietly and reflect on how much I valued her friendship. I wish you had known my friend, Jennifer Guberman, because you would have surely loved her…