Because I have issues with social media in general, I have gone through long periods of time where I just don’t even log into FB at all. That has generally suited me just fine, except for those updates that some only post on a social site to share that will be missed if one chooses to not participate in said sites.
That was made all too apparent to me when I recently logged in to post something and found a note from a long time friend who posted that her cancer which she has fought back several times, is now to the point where she no longer considers the ravages to be worth the war. With her normal grace, she has informed us all that she is ceasing further treatment and is calling in hospice.
So, Let me tell you about my friend Judy Rupnow Wick and our story together.
Not too long after I moved to Colorado back in the mid 80’s, while I was figuring out what it was I wanted to do with my life, I took a job as a waitress at a newer sports bar down by the then McNichols Arena and Mile High Stadium. She was one of the bartenders and I was one of the servers. We served many of the regulars that find an establishment and call it their own, as well as the many sports and concert enthusiasts that frequented us on their way to the local events. Like any spot that is lucrative, we made good money and so turn over in staff was minimal. We had the same staff almost from the very beginning until the place shut down. In that time, we became family. We celebrated, screamed at times, laughed a ton, hung out even when we weren’t working together, celebrated good times and cried together at the hard times. We even had an annual flag football game for a few years.
That is Ted and I on the far left and Judy in the Pink.
When I got engaged and planned the wedding to be held in the midst of a hiking trip in the Colorado mountains, Judy was the one who managed to also get the time off to come along – no small feat in a busy place with limited staff. Had she not been there, I may not have gotten married. Her calm presence after I had a heated argument the night before with my betrothed, along with the frustration of some of his friends – that had previously assured me that they had the equipment and knowledge of what to bring on a back packing trip – yet showed up with book bags as their gear, was enough to have me hiking in another direction. Her wit (making fun of the “mountain men” who would wear their book bags on their back one minute and the front the next, because they couldn’t get comfortable in them), her ability to talk it out in non-confrontational methods, and the 7 mile hike up hills, allowed for the sting of harsh words to release from me and soak into the surroundings and be purified as nature is always willing to do.
After our beloved Ironworks Bar and Grille shut down, Judy and Jim were married and moved to Minnesota not too far from North Dakota. Distance lengthened the time between our visits, but not the connection. Lucky for me, her sister was still in Denver, so I tagged into many visits just by going over to Audrey’s house. Once Judy started the dog agility, I was lucky again that every now and then, there would be a trial in Denver that she would attend. This even allowed Devin and I to be able to go and experience the drama and excitement of the trials, and see the comradery that she now had with that group. She really did land into another whole family with the agility peeps.
Judy had moved to Minnesota and also into counseling for many years. She is a natural good listener which had also made her the great bartender that she was in our working years together and of coarse, a great friend.
A couple years ago, after her first battle with cancer seemed to have been won, I was again able to meet up with her at a dog agility trial in Minneapolis as I was passing through on a very quick but wonderful trip up through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Judy always made time to reconnect whenever and wherever possible.
She was back here just a year or two back and we actually were getting the main crew from our Ironworks days together, but she had to leave just one day prior to when the rest could gather. My fortune, always being on the lucky side, provided that I was at least afforded lunch together before she had to take to the road back home. We all missed Judy at that visit.
I’m sad to say that my stubbornness to not give Facebook my time, also caused me to miss the updates that Judy’s cancer had returned and was worse. It was a gut punch to hear that my friend has been once again in treatments and declining in strength and reserves needed for handling the toll that the drugs and exertion takes.
Judy, I can feel the calm in your words, the grace of being ok with where you are, where you’ve been and allowing the loved ones who are with you, hold you as your soul prepares for the journey beyond. I am so very blessed to have had you in my life for so many years. I cry as I write this because it hurts my mind to contemplate you leaving our plane of existence. But all the while my eyes stream with sadness, my heart is still aglow for what we’ve had that cannot be taken away. I know that I will be on a hike, or see a dog, or hear a laugh and know that you are still with me even when your body cannot be. We all want to say that we will have lived a good life when our time comes, no matter what that age is, and I pray that this last segment on this journey reminds you of what a great life yours has been. I want to also let you know that mine has also been amazingly better because you were a part of it. Thank you. I love you now and forever.