Sweet Jesus, I’ve been gone from this blogsite so long my wordpress account looks entirely different, and I can’t…I don’t…how in the hell do I even put cutsie tootsie little frames around my pictures? For the love of all things holy, how fast this world does move.
I am writing because I lost a friend recently and if I don’t write it all down I don’t know if I’ll forgive myself, because while I’ve been standing still in the 28.75 (UPDATE: longer now) hours since I heard of her death, the world keeps right on turning. It could be another few months before I sit and think about Bonnie. It could be years. That’s the way things go for us humans now. We have come to need a startling death to make us take a deep breath in – though all the while, everything else rushes by.
Bonnie died quickly of a particularly aggressive cancer. I will be forever grateful that she called me at home to tell me about it, that she sought me out several times after that to give me updates, that, bald-headed and beautiful, she let me take a photograph with her in June. I have that photograph in an email given to me by a student, but I can’t get the picture to save anywhere else. It breaks my heart, and yet I can’t help but feel maybe Bonnie wouldn’t want that picture on this blogsite and I don’t have one in which she was healthy and vibrant – which is how I will always remember her.)(UPDATE: I got one from the newspaper. Here it is.)
Bonnie worked in the room next door to me at Troy Howard Middle School. She was an exceptionally hard worker, in the constant motions of planning, teaching, correcting, grading – all while raising her own family, staying in touch with her extended family in other parts of the country, and running marathons – you know, for fun. She was an avid Patriots fan, and went to more games in Foxboro than I can count – and she never missed a day of work that I remember. More than that: she did it with a smile, and when I say smile, I mean the kind that disarmed everyone around her, and that bolstered everybody’s mood, day in and day out.
She saw me through the years in which I had two boy toddlers and a tiny little baby girl who was in daycare and who wouldn’t take a bottle…which kept me on the verge of tears for days. She saw me through my first 10K – a race in Camden sponsored by Peter Ott’s. That was the one in which I was beaten by a woman pushing a stroller. But Bonnie, after having done a 2 mile warm-up run, her own 10K and another mile cool down, ran back up the dreaded hill that ends the race (going down, thankfully) and led me to the finish line. That’s the kind of friend she was. Closer still: that’s the kind of person she was. She would have done that for anyone who needed it.
Last year, I had the honor of teaching Bonnie’s daughter Meghan in my 8th grade Language Arts class. All of my life I will be grateful for that twist of fate, as it allowed me to see my friend more often than I had in the years since I left THMS. The very last time I saw her was when she told me that the chemotherapy hadn’t done it’s job.
There was no trace of anger. Not an ounce of self pity. Bonnie smiled that signature smile and said “yeah, well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.” I remember thinking I don’t like the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes the way it goes makes me want to punch God in the face. But not her.
There are some people who make an impression on our lives. Bonnie Cahill Gallagher made a soft, but clear and distinctive impression on mine and I wanted to say so here, where somewhere in the vast nothingeverythingness of the internet, they will live on. I love you Bonnie and you are missed. Thank you for your presence here.