Happiness. A smile that lit up the world. Patience. Positive energy. She understood me like a big sister. And laughter! Boy did we laugh. She was the center of our friendship circle. The last time I laid eyes on her was in the winter of 2015 at a wine festival and I (of course) was acting like a big baby because I wasn’t really having fun. I pouted and rolled my eyes a few times as I tasted some bitter wines. She pulled me aside to remind me that life was beautiful because we were all together. And then I became calm again. Months went by and we spoke often but life had made it that I would never see her again. “Fly butterfly fly” were the last words she spoke to me on my birthday…in the spring. By then I had moved back to my home state but still hoped to visit her when all the summer plans she made in winter came to be. I thought…I will show up for the summer wine tour. I will get on that bus. I will drink funny tasting wines and I will laugh with my friends on the wine bus. I can do that. I will do that because even though I was happy about my move…I missed them. Missed the brunches, happy hours, girls’ nights watching marathons of Big Freedia, and just moments filled with perfectly homemade mixed drinks. I had no clue that…that spring I would long for winter 2014 in a way I had never longed for any other winter. I wanted to feel the cold on my face. Would give anything to taste those bitter wines. Life is crazy that way. Someone we love is taken away from us in a moment’s notice and we start to long for even the miserable moments with them. We start to even miss pain…the pain of living out uncomfortable moments with the people we truly care about…because that is preferable to the empty gaping hole their passing left in our hearts. I want to say I had no clue that HE would take her from us but the weekend before her passing I got this strong feeling to call her and our other friend, Hope. Hope had just posted a stressful work day status on Facebook so I called her first and left the next day for Michele. I’m just saying her real name because there’s no way I could have started off this blog with saying her name without bursting into tears. I had to make you wonder about her and learn her through each word, phrase, and sentence. I wanted you to feel her…her spirit before I said her name. I wanted you to experience my loss…word for word. The next day…I would forget to call her. The Ex Factor wasn’t feeling well and I was trying to keep my cool as we were suppose to be celebrating my birthday. Huge rain and wind storms blew through from the Midwest that affected the north and my family were all stuck in whatever respective states they were trying to travel back from. It felt like the world was ending never realizing a piece of mine was. Michele was getting ready to transition and my spirit knew it before my mind could wrap my head around it. The storms continued and it was a rocky couple of days. Then silence. And then sun. The sun came out and I didn’t quite know it then but God had completely transitioned Michele and right before our broken hearts she would turn into the beautiful butterfly she told me to be. The way I found out was painful but it was nothing compared to what my Richmond friends went through…finding her body in her town house. A place where we laughed and drank mixed drinks and laughed some more. The place where I’ve spent many evenings sipping cocktails and complaining about my unfulfilling job. Where did the time go? Why had I been complaining so much? Why wasn’t I in a better mood at the wine festival? WHY DID I NOT APPRECIATE WINTER?! How I long for the snow. I never knew she was going to stay in spring…the last time I saw her. I miss her smile…the sunshine she brought to our group. And I pray that her transition was painless. The guilt would stay with me for almost a year…the guilt of suddenly leaving…the guilt of not being able to travel back for her funeral…the guilt of wanting to lay in my bed for months but instead working 7 days a week straight so that I could cry around my desk 4 hours a day behind dark sunglasses…the guilt of knowing what my friends went through and I wasn’t there…and the guilt of knowing that I had some more time on my life. The guilt of knowing I can still get married and have children yet I had no plans to. The guilt of knowing the weekend I felt the most compelled to call her…I was with the Ex Factor. I thought her final message to me was to leave him and explore life. Now I feel that it was no coincidence that as she was beginning her transition…I was with him. He is my heart and I believe…my future. I never truly dreamed of a future until I met him. And even that guilt was consuming….that I could still dream. Why did I not get a feeling sooner that she was transitioning? Why did God allow me to suddenly move a month and a half before Michele passed? Why did HE take her so soon?! We are left with so many questions…that will always be left unanswered. My only saving grace was that Michele’s Spring would meet with my Grandmother, Gloria’s, Autumn and they would comfort each other with smiles and laughter of the beautiful seasons while remembering the times they spent in Winter and Summer with their loved ones. No matter what anyone says…you always feel grief. It never quite disappears. Sometimes it will catch you off guard and swallow you up. Other times it will inspire you to fly like a butterfly into life and love. That’s where I am this summer…breathing an intoxicating love that is so imperfect that God created it just for me! I am embracing the warmth of summer…never forgetting about Autumn and Spring. I’m thrusting myself to a place where sorrow breathes life and hope. I am loving the Ex Factor in all seasons. His heart carries my heart in it. She stayed in Spring but her final message to me will last through all the seasons of my life. Each day we live. Each day we breathe. And each day we love…for those who can no longer do so. Spring is always around me. I can feel it. And it gives me comfort knowing that I was chosen to LIVE it…for now. Spring and Autumn gave birth to my heart’s content and I’m forever grateful for the times I spent in those seasons. I am forever grateful for heartbreaking, love inspiring, breathtaking, and fire breathing LOVE. ~KJM on Serenity Saturday? In loving memory of Michele Monique Johnson?