Grieving the Loss of a Feminist Friend

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On Sunday, my world got just a little darker when one of my oldest friends died suddenly.

I first met Jennifer 37 years ago in the context of a medieval group I belong to. She was one of the first people I knew who broke the second-wave stereotypes of feminism. She was married for over 40 years to Henry. She studied classics at university. She loved to cook, garden and do textile crafts. She was a woman of faith who shared her love of music with her church community.

She also worked in the high tech industry, then moved on to run her own business as a career coach. She was a fierce defender of rights – for the disabled, for the LGBTQ community, for visible minorities. She taught me my example about grace, tolerance and the value of diversity.

On the fitness side, it was more complicated. Jennifer never looked stereotypically fit, and she had mobility issues, but did do her stretches and some yoga, in addition to gardening. In the spirit of this blog, she did what she could and accepted herself as she was. And she was pleased that I was contributing here.

In recent months, and despite all her precautions, COVID caught Jennifer. She had some long COVID symptoms and then a series of “cardiac events” and died less than 48 hours later. Was it COVID related? I don’t know.

I do know is the world has lost a big-hearted and generous soul. This will be the reality for all us aging feminists going forward, no matter how fit we try to be.

A grainy picture of a woman in a blue dress and wearing a headscarf. She is seated in front of a table loaded with loaves of bread.
Jennifer in her element — in the kitchen, doing some sort of craft, and laughing. Photo courtesy of Michael Cohen.

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