Current mood:  contemplative
Category: Friends

I had planned a different blog today but I am overwhelmed with grief that my wonderful friend China, who also went by a number of different names, Kelly, Elaine, Cassandra, China Rose – has died.

China and her husband Charlie had the best, most incredible marriage I know of. Married 50 years, still absolutely romantically obsessed with each other, they spent every waking moment together. Even when Charlie went to work, they talked all day by phone and would often lunch together.

I met her several years ago through a mutual friend and at the time, I thought she was the most colorful, crazy and yet wonderfully warm woman I had ever met.

A psychic by trade, I can’t say the reading she once gave me was, well, accurate, but her heart was in the right place. We became friends and I watched her suffer and pine when her only son died from complications related to AIDS.

China, I thought, would die from grief. She and Charlie shut down for a little while after their son’s passing, taking refuge in their many animals and their passion for bluegrass music. China had so many passions and so many incredible friends I never got bored with her.

I was with her one day when her agony over her son was particularly acute. We decided she needed a new baby. We went to Target and bought her a baby doll in a stroller. I will never forget how excited she was.

She called me a few days later. She’d heard about anatomically correct baby dolls and I helped her purchase one on Ebay. It arrived at my house and I must say, it was…er…correct, if a little creepy.

China also found a puppy in a basket. It breathed and snored softly. She brought it to my house and I was stunned as we sipped our tea and the little guy kept on sleeping.

It took me an hour to realize it wasn’t real.

“Isn’t he a beaut?” she asked me. “Nobody can tell he’s a toy.”

She and Charlie moved to the desert recently and she called me saying she’d discovered new book shops, a gigantic Target, made new friends and got involved with some intergalactic dome community.

“I’m hoping to finally meet an alien and ask him, What the heck y’all playin’ at?”

I shook my head, that was my friend China.

She launched into doll-making, alien chatting, animal rescuing and I would laugh at the updates.

Then the phone calls stopped. I tracked her down one morning and she told me she had breast cancer. “Treatable but incurable,” she said.

I wanted to visit her, but she wanted to grow her hair back. She told me she went to Target and bought some Barbie dolls, because Barbie’s hair was always perfect. 

Earlier this week, China lost her courageous battle with that disgusting, horrible disease that cancer is and I cried on the phone with Charlie.

“I loved that girl for fifty years,” he told me. “What am I going to do without her?”

I do not know. I never thought my wonderful friend would die. I truly thought she was the one person who would live forever.

Charlie has had an out pouring of support from all over the world. I will keep calling him, keep reminding him how much China loves him still.

The one good thing to come of this is that I know her son was waiting for her, waiting to embrace her and show her all the tea shops and doll collections in heaven. I know all her animals that have passed waited on the Rainbow Bridge for her and if I know China, she picked up a few happy strays as she crossed it.

An angel has gone and life’s just not the same. I do know on September 17, when China’s friends from around the world meet for a gigantic memorial service, stories will be shared about China, Elaine, Cassandra, China Rose and other parts of her I never got to know.

I hope God’s ready for a great big, beautiful of fire. I’ve never known anyone like China. Or Elaine, or Kelly…she’s finally home with all the other angels, her own kind. I know animals and children everywhere have a new guardian watching over them…and no Target store in heaven is safe.

Aloha oe,


Currently listening:
Mambo Sinuendo
By Ry Cooder
Release date: 2003-01-28

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