Recently, I started getting back into the groove with posting. Recovering the satellites so to speak, from what had been a simultaneously wonderful and challenging trip back East to dive into what still remained from a large collection of my mother’s belongings. And then I got a call. My father called to let me know that our neighbor and very dear friend, Gretchen Lengyel, who had been struggling with the same horrible disease as my mother, was now being given palliative care. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach, and I could not contain my tears when I called my father back to talk to him about it. A day later, she was gone.
I got to see Gretchen one last time this summer at my friend Lizzy’s wedding. I was so happy to see her, and she looked wonderful. She had her same wry smile and fantastic sense of humor, but I could tell she was tired. I knew exactly how hard she was fighting. The trajectory of her disease and my mom’s was so similar, and they both fought with such elegance, grace and humor.
Gretchen was loved by all that knew her, you could not help but be drawn to her, she was such a warm, loving and kind woman, with the most wonderfully irreverent sense of humor. I can still hear her laugh, and feel her great big hugs. She always welcomed me into her home and was one of the only people in the world outside of my family allowed to call me “baby Amy.” My parents and the Lengyels were not just neighbors, they were friends. I know how much my mom loved Gretchen and Peter, and I believe the feeling was mutual.
My heart breaks for her incredible children, grandchildren and husband Peter, and I will be there for them in any way I can.
My mother was a collector of a great many things, and one of her largest collections was snow globes. On my last day in Long Island, hours before my flight, I photographed this snow globe on a lark. It is in my old room, on my night table under the window that faces Gretchen and Peters front porch.
The words that are written across the rim of the flower pot are “Friends are like flowers from the garden of life.” Yes. Yes I believe they are.
Love you always Gretchen.