It is the last day of the year according to the Jewish calendar, and I’m thinking not so much of the end of this year as of the end of Janet’s life. Janet Hamburg, a friend of mine I occasionally saw here and there for the last 28 years.
Janet was a dancer and renowned dance professor, researcher and international innovator (particularly when it came to helping people with Parkinson’s), but to me, she was also and always warm, graceful and lit from within when I spotted her leaning over the plums at the food co-op or sitting across from me at a party as we made small talk and caught up on the big generalities of our days. We weren’t close friends, and I didn’t see her except by coincidence or situation, but I liked her so much. I also liked very much her partner of 30 years, Lynn, who I got to know during the last year.
Three weeks ago, I talked to them together at a small party, sitting together and talking about work, health, yearnings. Nothing terribly intimate, but I remember watching the two of them stand to leave and admiring the deep bond they shared with each other and the beauty of their love.
I cannot bring myself to say any platitudes about the preciousness of life (although it’s true), only that I’m sad Janet is gone, and I’m sad that Lynn must carry this large gap in the shape of a graceful, vibrant woman. May this new year bring those who loved Janet deeply the miracle of healing.