This is not a column I wanted to write. Not enough months ago, however, it was a column I was so very relieved not to have to write. A friend and former coworker had had a heart attack, you see, and I’d thought I’d lost the chance to tell her how much she and her friendship meant to me. The doctors were able to save her life that night, though, so I was given the chance to tell her and did each time I saw her.
As the old year gave way to this new one, however, a second heart attack took her sailing to whatever dwells beyond the last of our breaths.
The last time I saw Peggy I was in line at the store and she snuck up to me and “accidentally” bumped in to me. She looked so small and frail but she had the same gigantic smile in her face as she always did. Bending down a bit as she was the shorter one, I wrapped her in a huge bear hug and held her tight telling her how good it was to see her and how much I loved and missed her.
For no particular reason I also kissed her on the top of her head as I held her there.
Maybe it was that some small part of me was trying to let the rest of me know that she was smaller and more fragile looking than I’d ever seen her before? Maybe my lips knew it would be their last chance to talk to her and let her know how much they loved her?
I don’t know.
I certainly didn’t know that she would be gone a week or so later.
It is strange to think that, by the way: Peggy Synco is gone. Of course in some small way she is never truly gone as she left behind so much of herself in her sons, daughter, grandchildren and husband. The simple fact that I will never make her laugh again – or she, I – is enough to devastate me regardless.
Peggy was a woman built for mischief and loved to laugh and to make others laugh. When she found a way to do both it was truly a sight to behold.
When I first started working here at the paper she was working in the press and we met with her bringing by copies of the paper so that we could proof them and make sure there were no errors so the entire press run could be printed. There was this little wiry woman with the energy of a Mack truck and the smile of a hurricane and all I could do was laugh and thank her by calling her my “Paper Fairy.”
At that she stopped, looked at me for a second, and laughed. Every time after that she would announce herself as the paper fairy. Even after she’d left the press and I’d left the paper and come back and she’d left the paper to work elsewhere…she was always my paper fairy.
She still is, even now.
Over the years of working with her and even more years of friendship I came to see what an amazing woman she was. Intensely devoted wife, mother, grandmother and coworker she was a tiny shot of all that I have come to know and love about Arkansas.
I just…okay, it is harder writing this than I thought it would be. I thought that I could put down in words what I lost when my dear friend passed away. I thought that I could give you a small taste of the amazing woman I was proud to call my friend. I thought, I suppose, that doing so would allow me to feel something instead of feeling nothing at all.
One of my dear friends is gone and I am numb from the sorrow in my heart. Of all the things I could have ever imagined as an emotion I would feel when thinking about Peggy sorrow is something that doesn’t make sense. She was a spirit that defied sorrow and simply, honestly, shined forth happiness and love into your world.
I will miss her always and I will try to make sure that at least once a day, when my day might be at its most frustrating and stressful, I will stop to think of her and laugh.
I hope she’d be okay with that. I hope my paper fairy got her real wings, actually, and will every now and again be right there with me as I laugh and think of her.
Rest in peace, dearest Peggy. Thank you for being you and thank you so very damned much for allowing me to be a character In your life’s story. You are one of the most memorable in my own.
(Published first here)