I woke up this morning to find that a very good friend had passed away. Not only was she a friend, but she had actually worked for me earlier this year. Often in my line of work people will tell me, “I am a writer.” But more often than not they are not a good writer for news. So when Lori told me she wrote, I was a little skeptical. So I assigned her a story for our magazine, The Sun Times on The Lake and River. I will never forget the day Lori walked in the office with her story. I was nervous. She told me she was nervous too.

As I began to read her story, I was so impressed. And happy. I had found someone who could take some of the writing load off of me. You see putting out a newspaper twice a week, and the occasional magazine by yourself is not easy. Lori dove in, attending meetings, writing stories. Often we would attend events together, such as when we went to Little Rock to interview the Disney on Ice skaters, or when Appeals on Wheels came to town and we attended a by invitation only reception for them. It was great to share these moments with Lori. Alas back a few months ago Lori told me she couldn’t write for me anymore. Too many hours, not enough money. Believe me I understood. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it. I would loved to be able to offer her a position at the paper, it wasn’t up to me.

We remained friends, thankfully. I became busier though, having to shoulder all the writing duties at the paper again. I didn’t get to see Lori as often anymore and then back in the summer, she was involved in a car accident. She was in the hospital following the accident for awhile and even after she came home, she was not getting out much. I would talk to her by text message but she had told me she wasn’t receiving visitors so I stayed away. Understand Lori was a beautiful woman and how she looked meant a lot to her. I can’t say I ever saw her without her make-up done and her hair fixed. I assumed that’s why she didn’t want anyone coming by to see her. I respected her request and figured when she felt better we would get together.

What I couldn’t know at the time, was she was not going to get better. Last Saturday night, while covering an event, I found out Lori had cancer and they were not giving her long to live. I sent her a couple of text messages, which went unanswered, wanting to come and see her. Yesterday morning I sent her a message on Facebook telling her just how much she meant to me and what her friendship had meant to me. I pray she was able to see it.

Lori, in her own way, touched people’s lives. She was really beautiful on the inside and outside. I loved to talk with her about her grandbabies, who she loved so much. We would giggle about when she would go visit them in Indiana. She would tell me how she slept on a mattress on the floor with her grandbabies cuddled up close. It was obvious how much she loved them. My heart aches for the loss her grandchildren will never know what they meant to her. Or maybe they will. It’s hard to know what little ones feel and understand sometimes.

Lori, as I sit here writing this tribute to you, I hope you know what a very special person you were to me, and to so many others. I hate that I didn’t get to tell you goodbye in person, nor get to tell you how very special to me you were. I will always cherish our memories from Christmas and New Year’s Eve of 2017. You made those holidays so special and memorable. Heaven is a little more beautiful today and earth lost a natural beauty.  You will be missed. With all my love.

Until next time...