The evil disease cancer took another woman dear to my heart.
My beloved friend Marion Hughes passed away on 11.1.19. Today would have been her birthday.
We met in 2008 on the NBS Summit in Breckenridge, Colorado. We were introduced to each other at Denver Airport, and by the time the two hour bus ride to our destination was complete, we were besties.
That day, I got altitude sickness. As a nurse, she immediately sprung into action. From then on, she always reminded me to do the best for my health.
She loved tennis, skiing, golf and retail therapy (aka shopping). Most of all, she loved leopard print. When I first saw one of her fab leopard print pieces, I complimented her on it. Her response, in her crisp British accent “nuff respect for the leopard darling”.
Her favorite thing to me over the years was “listen to your Auntie Marion. X is not a good idea”. She always made me laugh. We had a tradition of having lunch at Neiman Marcus in Bal Harbour – it was a good midway spot between our homes. We shared so many giggles and memories.
As she was fighting her battle with cancer, we sat at University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center reminiscing.
I told her “you have to recover. Leopard is in this season. It’s your season!”
She replied “sweetie, leopard never went out of style. Quality never does”.
She didn’t want to tell me about her diagnosis because she knew how tough it was losing my mom to the same disease. Much like my mom, she downplayed the severity until she could not anymore. Even still, she was feisty — we laughed to the end. And much like my mom, seeing me get married and be in a healthy, happy relationship made her so proud.
It’s always interesting to hear the untold stories at a funeral. Her family and close childhood friend from the UK shared how as a teen, she applied to work at a large grocery chain in her area. All was well until she arrived for her interview – suddenly no jobs were available. She was denied due to her race. In a concerted effort between her friends, community and family, she shamed the store and eventually was able to work there. I never knew the effect she had on race relations in her area. But that was Marion – never one to brag. She just did what had to be done and soldiered on.
Losing her is a reminder for all of us not to put things off. We wanted to take another ski trip together, but never got the chance. And PSA – get your affairs in order. This includes both a living will, and a traditional will for your belongings.
My friend, my confidante, my adviser, my ever fabulous “Auntie” Marion. Thank you for blessing me with your presence in my life. I love you and will miss you eternally.