Today it’s been a year since she died. She was my best friend for a while and my daughter’s godmother for always.
It was almost 20 years ago but I remember the moment we met like it was yesterday. We were first term massage students on our first day of class. We sat on the floor in a circle. She was across from me. She was wearing a moonstone ring. I was wearing moonstones as well. I couldn’t stop looking at her and every time I did, she was looking back at me and smiling. She was so familiar yet we’d never met. I wanted to sit closer to her. I wanted to know her.
We were told to find a partner to work with and without question we walked toward each other.
The first words she ever spoke to me were “Do you have a daughter named Maraya?”
I do have a daughter named Maraya, she was three at the time.
“You have the same eyes and the same energy—You feel the same” she said. “I rub her head and play with her curls to help her fall asleep at nap time, she hates naps.”
Toni felt familiar because my daughter already loved her. This was the woman she talked about. This was the sweet, funny head rubbing pre-school teacher that my daughter could not stop talking about. This was my soon to be best friend and my daughter’s future godmother. This is the woman who would know everything there was to know about me, would never tell my secrets and sadly would never see my granddaughter.
Maraya and I lived at Toni’s during my divorce. We did everything together, we gardened and played and camped and swam and ate and drank and slept in the yard. Maraya was the daughter Toni didn’t have so rightfully assumed the role of godmother.
Toni moved across the country when Maraya was 7. As she was leaving she took the moonstone ring off of her finger and slipped it onto mine. We all cried. A lot. For nearly a year we wrote letters to each other in a ragged journal that traveled back and forth across the many miles. The first page of that journal has a big circle around a water mark in the middle of the page. In Toni’s writing next to it it says “Tears of love for my family, I miss you”.
I cried as I wrote her too.
As so often happens we grew distant and spoke infrequently yet less than three weeks before she was killed she sent me a message that read;
I was reading an old journal last night. 12-21-1997 “I’m gonna miss Kimby. She’s been a great friend and sister. She is the one that makes me laugh. She is the grounding force that keeps my head stable, and my Maraya. My daughter with her silly wise ways. May she grow with her strong beliefs and teach others.” I miss you both. TLC (Toni Lyn Cavagnaro)
Fifteen years later when Maraya was getting close to birthing her baby I put the moonstone ring on my finger thinking that it would be nice to have Toni near us at the birth. It had been four years since that ring was on my finger. I put it on on April 13, 2 days before my grand daughter was born and the very day that Toni was murdered.
She would never see her goddaughter’s baby.
There is a photograph in a gold frame I keep in the windowsill above my kitchen sink. That has been it’s spot in every house I have lived in since it was taken 18 years ago. It sits there today and every time I do the dishes I see her smiling face as I kiss her cheek. I keep some of her ashes near me and I talk to her often.
I recently dreamed a dream so vivid that I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t real. I dreamed that my beloved friend was sitting barefoot at the foot of my bed, a glass of red wine in her hand.
Simple fun. Dancing in the rain and sleeping under the stars fun. She said “Try not to take things so seriously-none of us are getting out of here alive”.
Her hair fell around her face and she smiled the way I remember her smiling the first time I saw her when she said “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
What do I plan? Well my dearest friend, I plan to dance in the rain, to sleep under the stars, to love deeply and to not waste a single breath of it.
This piece was inspired by a quote from Mary Oliver. It was an assignment on forming a story around the words of another.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard