Blonde. Tall. Blue eyes. With the most genuine heart you’d ever seen. I’m going to try not to cry while writing this, but I don’t have faith in that myself. You see, this is a sad story about a very special person. Picture her, if you would:

This is the woman who’d mow the lawn in nothing but shorts because she was all about male/female equality. She’d be in the backyard in the summer heat mowing the lawn with a push mower, singing along to her music. Afterwards she’d jump in the pool to cool off and beg everyone to come have a swim with her. This woman (and I say woman lightly as she was so much more than that) always had a smile on her face, showing off her perfect white teeth. She had the kindest eyes you’d ever look into. She had an amazing life. A beautiful house, 2 beautiful children and a wonderful husband who was the ultimate family man. I guess you could say I grew up in that house. Her children were like my brother and sister and her husband the only father figure in my life.  I was on the outside, always, as they weren’t my family by blood, but Linda always made me feel like one of her own. My mother was her best friend. It makes sense, 2 wonderful, strong and amazing women probably get along quite well. The only terrible thing about becoming so close to Linda was that I had to watch the fall….

My first glimpse into the terrible world of drug addiction was when I was very young. So young that I was in the D.A.R.E program when my mom finally told me Linda began doing drugs. I didn’t completely understand. How could this amazing woman, my second mother, be doing something they taught us was so bad? Her downfall was swift yet lengthy at the same time. The first ones to go were her friends, which she replaced with new, unsavory ones. The second one to go was her husband, who replaced her with her best friend that lived right down the street. He stayed as long as he could in a toxic household, pleading with the love of his life to get help, to stop. She wouldn’t. Third to go were her children. My mother and I still lived in the home for some time afterwards, we didn’t have anywhere else to go. Linda had taken us in… a single mother and her daughter. I was too young to feel anything for Linda other than disappointment. I still loved her. Most of my memories from when I was younger involved her. Slowly those memories went from her smile and kind words to her staying in her room for 3 days, all that could be heard from outside the door was the flicking of lighters and loud music.

I remember one time her daughter sat outside her door kicking it over and over again, tears running down her face as she called for her mom. The door never opened. Linda was passed out and didn’t wake up for an entire 24 hours. That is drug abuse. Children wanting their mother, husbands wanting their wives back, friends leaving after trying for so long because they can’t stand to see it anymore. I wish I could say there was a happy ending to this story. I guess there slightly it. You see Linda had 2 falls. Eventually after years of heavy drug use she was sent to prison for a crime. She spent 2 years there. I still have the letters she sent me. My second mother, her freedom taken away. Terrified she was missing out on more of her children’s lives than she had already. Eventually she got out. She was clean. She was happy. She got her feet under her. She had a house, had made friends. Her children and her were rekindling their relationship. But just as life is rarely ever fair, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly afterwards. She fought. She fought to keep the rest of the life she had left. The precious years she had left with her family. Ultimately the cancer won. I don’t have many regrets in my life but one I do have is not going to that funeral to say goodbye. The last time I saw Linda she was bald but still beautiful. Weak but still strong.

That’s now how I remember her now though. When I picture her I still see her comforting smile, her beautiful voice, her insatiable love for life and everyone she had in it. When I think of her I remember her dancing in the kitchen cooking dinner. I remember her beautiful long blonde hair. I remember her saying a prayer with us every night and always tucking us all in. And finally, I remember all that she taught me. Sometimes I am amazed at who I am as a person. Most of it was my mother being such a strong amazing woman, but a lot of it was also Linda. In her short time on earth she managed to do so much for so many people. I love you Linda, I miss you. We miss you.


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