She died doing what she loved, where she loved.
I can't get past she died.
She was my first Mom Friend in Marin. Big Cuter and her son bonded over fat fantasy novels and Magic Cards. Smart boys in a culture that valued sports over the life of the mind, they had feet firmly planted in both camps. CYO rules precluded my son from joining his friend's team, but their rivalry played itself out on the courts at the middle school and the town park. She convinced me, newly arrived from Chicago, that the boys would be perfectly safe if left alone while they played. "You don't live in the city any more!" became a recurring reminder.
I believed her because we parented similarly; her children were as polite as mine.
Big Cuter and her son were tortured by the teacher from hell, and she and I stepped in to remedy the situation. She took math and science, I took English and history, and we spent hours making that classroom resemble a place of learning, counteracting the teacher's need to diminish and demean the students. She assured me that the situation was an anomaly. She refused to countenance my desire to switch to a private school. She reminded me that we could make a difference, and we did.
She decided that there were twins who needed to be friends with Big Cuter, and she made the arrangements so that could happen. She was sharing her son's new friend with two other youngsters; it was the most generous gift we received in our first few months in a new town. She truly believed that there was enough love to go around.
She organized incredible outings and events; her kids' birthday parties are the stuff of legends. Only Liz could convince a group of moms to double as pack mules, riding our bicycles laden with supplies for miles on unpaved paths all the way to the beach. Only Liz would think to use the middle school field for a birthday food fight. Only Liz, of all the moms, stayed and played poker with the kids when Big Cuter's outdoor birthday party was rained out.
Only Liz...... there are so many Only Liz stories.
She rode her bike a gazillion miles, traversing terrain previously visited only by mountain goats and sherpas. She swam, naked, from Tiburon to Angel Island, emerging victorious and unclothed, with a smile on her face. There were others in the pack, but I'm certain that she had the biggest smile of them all.
She let me snuggle with her little one (who's a big one now), let me tease her about her perpetually bare feet, let her promise to always hug and kiss me, no matter how old she was, because Liz understood that I'd left all the babies I knew behind in Chicago, and that loss was tearing at my heartstrings.
I did mention that she was the most generous person I knew, didn't I?
And today, Big Cuter called to tell us that she is gone.
A world without Liz is a world which is missing a shining star. She was funny and smart and direct and profound. She grabbed the world by the throat and never let go. She loved and was loved. She will live on in our memories...... but damn, a world without Liz is a strange place, indeed.
Rest in peace, my friend.