I hesitate to write about my friend.
I’m still in the denial stage.
Broken and fragile, I approach the keyboard, my fingers trembling slightly as I attempt, resolute, to celebrate her existence in my life.
Beautiful Gail, kind, generous, lovably original, spontaneous; always surprising Gail, my wonderful neighbor.
Gail who was so much more than my next door neighbor, she was a thoughtful friend, a sister.
She is gone, and my heart aches with immense grief, disbelief and fury.
Just like that, Gail flew away into the arms of the angels, and I didn’t get the chance to say, what happened, please don’t go, hang in there, my friend…
The lady who blessed my life, and my family’s, with her presence for many years disappeared in a tragic manner, leaving the deepest void in our souls.
Sunny, friendly Gail, who would show up at my front door, nearly invisible behind a massive armful of zucchini, basil, cucumbers and tomatoes, gathered from her backyard, she the devoted constant gardener with the magic touch and the brilliant green thumb. Gail, who would ring the doorbell, carrying a beautiful dress, excited, almost child-like, eager to show me and my daughters what she had found for a special event she was attending, unraveling with enthusiasm. Gail, a fantastic cook, who invited us for dinner on the spur of the moment, ‘just made a special dish, come on over in half an hour, all of you…’
Gail, the intrepid traveler, with her beloved husband John, returning from Thailand filled with gifts – earrings, necklaces, hot sauces, stunning scarves.
Gail and John, hosting those unique, unforgettable crawfish boils, gathering friends and neighbors for hours around that long makeshift table covered in newspapers, heaped with spicy crawfish right out of the caldron, potatoes, corn, and butter, our glimpse of Louisiana in our New York suburb. The pile of colorful Mardì Gras’ beads they brought back from New Orleans, where they proudly rode on the floats.
Gail and John, sharing our Christmas Eve’s meal, armed with wine bottles, excited and happy to partake of the pasta with fish, and my Neapolitan festive desserts.
Yes, Gail, you are my sister.
Gail, who moved away a few years ago, but still made us feel so much part of her world, surprising us with packages from Oregon, much to our delight. A cake pan for me, because she had admired one of my baking post on Facebook, and shared my love of sweets. Jars of delectable homemade preserves and pickles from her quickly established Oregonian garden; a shimmery wall decoration for my daughter.
Gail and John, the neighbors everyone would wish for, a blessing for my family, one true thing that should never end.
Gail and John, who watched with tender affection my daughters grow up, evolving from cheerful little girls to gentle young women, surrounding them with love, to the point that my girls thought of them more as relatives than neighbors. And, as such, they danced at my daughter’s wedding.
Gail, so much part of our life. Our forever memories.
Life can be cruel, fate can be brutal.
Bent under this burden of grief, I will still find the strength to thank God for having placed this incredible human being in my life, her luminous smile an indelible memory, her reality a true gift.
Be happy in heaven, my precious friend. Keep watch over me, over us, stay in my life, as I continue my path into the future, a better person for having known you.
Gail Giler: In Memoriam.