Tonight I said goodbye to my friend of 30 years, Bonnie Horne.

She was a hero in the truest sense. Battling not one but several cancers over the last 10 years, she defied the odds and the expectations of her small garrison of doctors at Dana Farber over and over again. She braved multiple operations, repeated chemotherapies and the slow decline of her healthy, sturdy body. And she went about this protracted struggle with a fortitude and a will that could at times almost blind you with the white hot intensity of her desire to stay on just a little longer. And during that time many of us learned from her—about grace under pressure, the power of the mind/body connection, the warrior’s tenacity needed to navigate the overwhelmingly complex rat’s nest also known as the American medical system.

Bonnie was unlike anyone else I know. She was one of those rare people who everybody likes. I have never met anyone who had a sour thing to say about her. Part of her “universal donor” appeal was because she so genuinely delighted in human beings of every stripe and size. But it was also because she had a masterful ability to be diplomatic without being disingenuous, candid yet tactful, an exceptional listener who also had an irrepressible wit. Each of my children had their own very personal relationship with her, one that did not come with that passive-aggressive, eye rolling “whatever” response that is the easiest dismissal of anyone over 30. None of that for Bonnie. She was cool. They all said so.

Bonnie’s friendships exemplify the tolerance and latitude of love that she lived in. She was as comfortable and easy with her MacArthur Genius Grantee pal Laurel as she was with the receptionist at the cancer center. Although she had a very defined sensibility and had strong opinions about many things in her life, she was not a judger of other humans. Aesthetics demanded a high bar, but the doorway for people was big and wide.

Over a year ago Bonnie read Barak Obama’s book, Dreams of my Father. She told us then that she had a hunch he would win. Back then that was a risky position and one that none of us were willing to take with quite the same level of conviction. So it was not without significance that she lived to see his inauguration, setting out on her own the day after this new era of our lives began.

The hole in me is deep and wide. As it should be.

kellandbon
My daughter Kellin with Bonnie Horne, Christmas 2008

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