Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Here's to You, Jacklyn

She was the epitome of class. Educated, self-reliant, outspoken, a true gem in every sense of the word. In the three years I spent as her assistant I learned the importance of being discreet, business etiquette, direct deposit as opposed to standing in line at the bank, sisterhood, and self esteem. She was successful but always grounded. She could have boasted how she was a key board member of several businesses in town. She owned real estate. She was president of the graduate chapter of her sorority and served as the sorority's undergraduate adviser. She drove a cute sporty red convertible Nissan 240. Her clothing wasn't designer but it was conservative, stylish, never flashy. She always wore her shoulder length hair in a french role, always neat and not a single hair out of place. The thing I remember most about her was her laugh, sort of a goofy kind of laugh, nothing loud or obnoxious, but a really cute goofy laugh and she was laughing all the time.
Her door was always open, so students and faculty alike gravitated to her office. The three years I spent in her office flew by along with my college years. I graduated and moved out of town but on occasion I would call or come by to see her and catch her up on the latest gossip. As time went on we lost touch and communicated with an occasional email. Although she kept her personal life very personal, I witnessed her involvement in a couple of dead end relationships. It wasn't until after I graduated and left town that she eventually fell in love and married the man of her dreams. They were a beautiful, successful couple. Then one day I got a phone call from my mom.
"Guess what?" I dread when she starts off the conversation with that.
"What?" I answered, "Jackie's husband died today."
"Wow." Was all I could say. I was so hurt for her that I couldn't pick up the phone to give her a call. I replayed over a million times what I would say to her but I just couldn't pick up the phone. Fast forward one year to the day.
"Are you sitting down?" It's mom again and I know she's about to break some more bad news.
"Jackie had a heart attack....She's dead."
"Dead? Jackie Merchant?"
My heart sank as I thought of Jackie, lifeless, it just didn't seem right. She was healthy, how could she have a heart attack? I always pictured Jackie growing old in age, I never imagined her dying so young, she was only 44.
It's been nearly 6 years since her death. I still think about her and sometimes I find it hard to drive by the University and not be able to drop in and talk to her. I miss hearing her laugh and I hate that she's not around to see the positive influence she's had on my life.


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