It's been a little over a week since my friend Regina passed away. I've thought about her every day. I met her through the North Texas Romance Writers more than a decade ago and then we became critique partners in a smaller group of 6, enjoying monthly lunches that spanned into suppers with how much we talked and all enjoyed each other's company, and yearly writing retreats~most of them hosted by Regina as she was a boss at organization and loved coming up with themes and treating us with fun writing incentives. 

It was in those overnights that we had deep talks about so much more than our writing ideas and I discovered what a treasure she was. There were times when my life was a mess, struggling financially mostly and how I was so tired of it. Rather than bemoaning with me, she asked, "Where would you like to be?" and then compensed to lay out a plan of success. I'm not the only one she did that with. I know because she told me. When her children were struggling with something, they would get the same treatment. She'd take them out to lunch and ask the same type of question. "Where do you want to be?" and then commence to laid out a plan to get there. 

I was smart enough to follow her plan and a few years later the financial woes are in the past and I'm making a good living. It's not a huge leap to say that Regina changed my life and by so doing affected my family's life as well. I've no doubt that many more people than myself can say the same. 

Regina was also the most intelligent person I've ever known in real life. There wasn't a subject that she didn't know something about. She loved learning just for the sake of learning. She kidded that she liked hanging out on what she called "the dark web", which consisted of finding the writings of intelligent people, professors and such, that weren't easy to find by following breadcrumbs along the Internet until she found what she was looking for. She simply had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, which also came in handy when we were all brainstorming.

Once I asked for a scenerio where one of my fictional heroes could be the donor for a rare type of disease. I wanted something unique and without batting an eye, Regina came up with some rare disease I can't even remember the name of. She then proceeded to tell me all about how it would be a feces transfusion. "A what? Regina, I'm not having my romance hero give someone a poop transfusion!" to which she just laughed and laughed, her eyes twinkling in mischeviousness. 

That's how it was with our critique group, a lot of fun and laughter mixed with moments of support for each other's pain. It's going to be forever changed without Regina. 

And she loved her family. It was evident in the way she spoke about them with so much love and pride about what they were doing with their lives. She was also a planner for herself, always making goals and plans with several trackers that she dutifully placed stickers in. She had plans. She said she was in the 3rd quarter of her life and had plans for her 4th quarter, places she wanted to travel to, goals she was on track to achieve, including books she was in the process of writing. I can't help but think, "what about your 4th quarter? You weren't done yet." It makes me want to stop waiting for a future day, but to live now, be bold now.

Pat and I attended her prayer service at her home the night before her funeral. We were a few minutes late so came in and stood near their front door. Touches of Regina were everywhere. I could tell she had put up her Christmas tree as it had ornaments she loved, several that were received from fellow writers. I couldn't help thinking "How is her husband Steve ever going to be able to put them away?" I imagine him leaving it up for a while. Her office was off to the side, dark and still, her trackers spread out across her desk, her youngest son was doing a valient job of holding it together while the prayer service continued and I was glad to be in the back where it was easier to wipe my tears unnoticed. 

However, there is comfort also. Regina was a woman of faith. It was evident in how she thought of others before herself and it was evident in her funeral and the choices she made for scripture and song. She once told me that she wasn't afraid to die, but was worried about how hard it would be on Steve. Again, thinking of others. I grieve for her loss in my life and I grieve for her family. I know they'll be okay because she prepared them well to be achievers, but there will be those life events when they will want her to be there. 

Goodbye my sweet friend. I wish I could express how much you meant to me but words aren't large enough. Until we meet again.