A few weeks ago, my friend Kathleen invited me to dinner in downtown Downers Grove. We had a lovely meal, sitting and chatting, and I felt a little bit like I was home.
I love this little town almost as much as my own little town, and much of that is because of one woman who first introduced me to it - the inimitable Ellen DeLordo.
I met Ellen when I worked at Nalco Chemical Company, back in the 90s and early 2000s. She made workdays fly by. She made life better just by being in it. She made amazing chicken salad. So, as I sat at the Lemon Tree Grocery a few weeks back, savoring a delicious glass of wine and chatting with Kathleen, I thought, "I should call Ellen, and see if she can join us." But I didn't want to intrude on my Kathleen time, and I figured I'd just call next time I was in town.
As it turns out, Ellen would not have been able to join us, because she was in the final phase of her life here on earth. And earlier this week, we lost her.
She's one of those people who has crossed my mind a lot over the years. She was a pillar of strength during the early stages of my divorce. She was a source of great humor and the best mentor a girl could ask for.
She was My Ellen, and I love her.
We'd lost touch, but always intended to get back together, for mint juleps or a glass of wine or one of her husband Randy's amazing Southern Comfort Old Fashioneds. Not that we were big boozers, mind you; it was usually one drink, curled up on the sofa, and then non-stop laughter for hours on end. The comfort of their home was like a warm blanket to me, and it had nothing to do with the house. It was all Ellen.
If there is a lesson in all of this, it's that sometimes, you can't afford to put off plans. We are all just an illness or bus away from leaving this life; we don't always get a second chance. I will have to learn to live with my regret for not having stayed in this amazing woman's orbit. It's a mistake I would not like to make twice.