A few months ago I heard some news about a woman I’ve seen at various events over the years. I heard she went on holiday and felt tired and when she came back the doctor said Oh, dear, it doesn’t look good. I don’t know her at all really but when I heard all this through somebody who heard it from somebody, I suddenly had this image of her in these crazy beautiful plaid slacks one year in Vancouver. And there was that time in Halifax when she was sitting on a patio. I remembered how she looked nothing like Lauren Hutton but exuded that kind of style. Long and lean and sure of herself. She looked comfortable in her clothes, her skin. I once saw her walking her dog, she wore a long print skirt and sandals. She had this smile, this way of seeming relaxed in a crowd.
I remembered a black pencil skirt, high-necked white blouse. Under-stated jewellery. Perfect shoes. Dark hose. The kind of simple elegance that stands out.
I remembered looking at her waist and thinking she probably hasn’t gained an ounce in fifty years, all slender grace. She would have been in her sixties, cropped grey hair—a tall, chic pixie. I bumped into her one year in Miami, both of us with some free time and so we chatted a while. Her son was in Australia then and her eyes lit up when she spoke of him. I don’t know why I remember this when I couldn’t tell you as much about a single other person I see as infrequently. We aren’t friends, we talk, we laugh, it’s politeness mostly. We don’t have a lot in common. I just always notice her. And when they said she was dying I couldn’t believe it. Not her, not someone who wore those slacks, those skirts, who smiled that serenely, who seemed so sure. But die she did. And my tears for her surprised me.