For the past 27 years, every other Tuesday around 7:45 AM, I hear my garage door open and my dear friend Jeanie arrives to clean my house.  Her daughter used to do housekeeping for my father so these two ladies have been in my life for over 40 years.  They are family.

When I hear the rattle of the garage rails, that is my signal to get a fresh cup of coffee and take it into my home office for some “Jeanie Time.”  She drops her supplies in the kitchen and joins me.  We always start with a nice hug before she takes her seat on my grandfather’s iconic cushioned chair.  We spend between 30-45 minutes swapping stories before she begins her work.

I do not think there is another person on the planet that really knows more about me than Jeanie.  This is a two-way street as I know her deepest secrets.  I know about all of her loves, her kids, her fears, grandkids, neighbors, and friends.   I can tell her mood and health by a simple glance at her face.  When one of us has good or bad news, we supplement the bi-monthly chats with phone calls to share the freshest tales.

About five years ago, she was diagnosed with an aneurysm near her kidney.  Depending on the situation, this is usually fixed with a simple surgical procedure to install a stent.  Due to the location, her surgery would have been very high risk.  She chose not to take the risk.   For the next six months, our Tuesday chats began and ended with tears.  Around the seventh month, her more familiar ornery self  showed up and said declared, “I am not going to let this ruin my life.  I now refer to my problem as “Junior” and will be damned if he will ever drive this train.”

She called a few weeks ago and asked about changing that Tuesday to a Thursday due to a paving project around her house.  She was concerned about not having access to her car.  Of course I agreed, but was personally bummed because I had a two-day trip planned and would miss updating her with the details and photos from my Costa Rica trip.  When I walked into my house on that Friday, my heart skipped a beat.  She had not been to my house and for the first time in 27 years she no-showed without a call.  I dialed her number around noon and left a message.  Around five she called and said, “I am so sorry.  I simply forgot to call.  The paving is a nightmare.”  She then started to tell me about the problem.

I interrupted her and said, “Jeanie, I know it is a problem, but for the past five hours, I truly thought “Junior” may have blown and that you were gone.  I want you to know in this moment and every other moment how much I love you and appreciate your friendship.”

She thanked me and quickly resumed telling me about the paving nightmare.  We were both looking forward to catching up on our next scheduled date.

Five days later, Junior took her life.

Do not let one minute pass before calling the important people in your life and telling them what they mean to you.