My friend Emilie Lemmons died on Christmas Eve after a short but intense battle with sarcoma. She leaves behind a 2-year-old, a 10-month-old and the love of her life. She was only 40. I still can't think what I can write about her that will do her justice.
Emilie and I weren't "close" in the same way she was close to her dear friends. We had only about a half-hour of face time and a handful of phone calls over the six or seven years I knew her. Ours was mostly a professional relationship: she was a reporter for our archdiocesan newspaper awhile back, and I was just another PR flack supplying her with story ideas and sources. But we had a "karma" between us. Whenever we talked, either via e-mail or on the phone, we got into all these conversations that had nothing to do with our original purpose. I've always thought that, had we been neighbor ladies back in the '60s, we'd have spent entire days letting the kids run wild while we talked over the back fence.
When she became a mother and decided to stay home with her little one, she began freelancing. And then there was one more little one, and she was hooked on motherhood. She started a blog when she was trying to get pregnant and wrote terrific columns on parenting and her inner life. She was so happy. Life was good.
We began e-mailing each other at least once a week over the past year. I don't even remember how that began. She read (and commented on -- yay!) this blog, and I read hers devotedly. She was an amazing writer and thinker. Funny. Smart. Gutsy. She was a terrific mother. I was -- and continue to be -- impressed at the depth of her spirituality. We had many conversations about that, and each time we did, I felt like someone out there was making me a better person, dragging me kicking and screaming toward heaven. Now she's gone. Selfishly I wonder if anyone will be able to pick up where she left off. Mostly, I thank her for her ultimate goodness, the positive force she was in the lives of others.
The Basilica of St. Mary should be packed for her funeral on Monday, as she touched so many people in her short life. I suspect her friend Molly Guthrey Millett, a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, will tell about that in a column in Sunday's paper.
I won't say goodbye to Emilie. Thanks to her, I know I'll see her again, no matter how doubtful I am. I just have to get to heaven to do that. Dang it, Emilie. I don't know if I'm saint material.